A new survey of Ohio brick-and-mortar charter schools has found that charter schools face challenges in securing adequate facilities and that a lack of dedicated resources sufficient for this purpose often results in spaces that are smaller than recommended guidelines. The report, An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio, produces findings from a survey of 277 (81 percent of) Ohios brick-and-mortar charter schools. The survey provides concrete data regarding what has been known anecdotally for some time: Ohio charter schools are forced to spend operating dollars to purchase, renovate, and maintain facilities, unlike Ohios traditional public schools.
Ohio brick-and-mortar charter schools receive $200 per pupil (FY17). According to the survey, however, Ohio's public charter schools spend an average of $785 per full-time equivalent pupil (or 13.5 percent of their state foundation funding) from designated per pupil operating revenue on facilities costs.
"This money would be better spent on instruction or teacher salaries", said Jessica Johnson, one of the reports authors and the General Counsel and Director of Policy at the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Further, the lack of dedicated facilities resources in Ohio is a significant barrier for high-performing charters that wish to expand or replicate to serve more students in need of high-quality educational options.
Additional findings from the Ohio report include:
- Few Ohio charter schools are able to utilize unused or underutilized district facilities.
- Ohio charter schools are generally smaller than recommended guidelines.
- Physical education and recreational options may be limited for Ohio charter school students due to lack of gymnasiums and athletic fields.
- Serving meals can be a challenge for many Ohio charter schools due to lack of full-preparatory kitchen facilities and/or lunch rooms.
Lack of facilities resources is an issue of equity, Andrew Boy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at United Schools Network, a high performing group of Columbus charter schools. Ohio charters serve approximately seven percent of Ohio's total public school population, with a majority of students in brick-and-mortar charters being students of color and/or students in poverty.
Research for the study was sponsored by the National Charter School Resource Center of the U.S. Department of Education, and conducted by the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, with assistance from the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The report is part of a larger, Charter School Facilities Initiative, which is performing similar studies in states across the country.
Additional information about the Charter School Facilities Initiative is available at www.facilitiesinitiative.org.