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New State Rules Mean More Charters For Some Cities

Arise Academy in Dayton is now closed, and former leaders of the school have been convicted of federal crimes.
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The state of Ohio has new guidelines for how it handles failing public school districts. Part of that law paves the way for an increase in charter schools.

The new rules would allow the state to recruit charter sponsors to come to a city with a troubled district. And right now, Youngstown City Schools is the only affected district. Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner says this push means the state is walking a fine line between improving its traditional public schools and relying on charters to educate students.

“Certainly putting kids out into charter schools where they carry a voucher with them, while it does the number one important thing, which is to give them access to good education… you have to be careful you’re not killing off that community, too.”  

Lehner says reform is needed if there will be more charters in the future. She released a plan in the spring outlining ways to increase accountability for charter sponsors. It passed the Senate, but didn’t make it through the House before the legislative session ended. Many lawmakers say it’s a good first step, but they don’t call it a cure-all.

The law has been controversial because it also creates a state-appointed CEO position and allows a city’s mayor to select school board members. Groups like the Youngstown Education Association and the Ohio School Board Association voiced concerns over how quickly it passed the legislature and pointed out the measure didn’t receive much public comment.

There are other school districts in Loraine and Cleveland that could eventually be under this new rule. Dayton and Trotwood-Madison are in review by the state, but both are still five years away from this kind of takeover.