Eye on Education


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The World of Ohio Charter Schools


Charter schools, known in Ohio as community schools, are publicly funded primary and secondary schools. They are considered public schools, so tuition is free. However, they have more flexibility in how they operate than traditional public schools. In Ohio, a charter school is operated under a contract with a sponsoring entity.

Approximately 95,000 of Ohio’s 1.8 million students were enrolled in charter schools in the 2010-11 school year.

Charter schools have been a source of conflict among Ohio’s educators and policymakers. Some champion charter schools as alternatives to struggling urban districts around the state and as an option for parents seeking schools that best suit their children. Others say charter schools siphon funding from local public school districts and do not offer students a better education.

In the 2010-11 school year, Ohio had 326 operating charter schools. Some were part of larger networks of schools run by a single operator. That operator can be for-profit or non-profit. White Hat Management, for example, is a for-profit company that runs about 50 schools around the state. Others schools are operated by their local school districts or groups focused on a single charter school.

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