Ohio’s dropout recovery charter schools may get their way after all since a committee of lawmakers re-inserted a provision of an education bill that would give them state funds to educate older students.
The funds would become available as part of a Kasich administration initiative that will provide state education dollars to help adults age 22 and older who likely dropped out achieve a high school degree.
The Beacon Journal’s Doug Livingston reported on June 3 that the provision was added back into HB 483 during a conference committee session to work out differences between the house and senate versions of the bill.
It had been removed by the senate amid concerns that charter schools running dropout recovery programs actually account for about half of the state’s dropouts, leading many to question the wisdom of allowing them to take on students with poor prospects of graduating at state expense.
The plan to divert funding to these charter schools first appeared after the House received the midterm budget bill from Gov. John Kasich. His plan gave additional money, about $5,000 per student, to two-year colleges and job-training programs.
The House, however, followed a proposal by Rep. Gerald Stebbelton, R-Lancaster, to include dropout charter schools.The Senate then removed the House’s addition. But a committee, assembled to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions, has revived Stebbelton’s plan.
Most conference committee members did not return the Beacon Journal’s calls for comment. The exception was Denise Driehaus, a Democrat from Cincinnati.
She said that, like Kasich, she favors provisions in the bill that give funding to community colleges and vocational programs, which provide job training.
“But the idea of funneling the money to dropout programs ran by charter schools that may or may not have done a great job to begin with is something that I did have a problem with,” Driehaus said, adding that she heard little discussion of the provision before it appeared back in the bill.
“The Republicans voted to put in back in, so it went,” she said.
A primary beneficiary would be White Hat management, which operates a number of dropout recovery programs with poor records of graduating students.
In a June 10 editorial, the Northeast Ohio Medi Group called on Governor John Kasich to exclude charter schools with a line-item veto – or, in its words, “drop-kick these floundering charter schools from this measure.”