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UL officials blast charter schools

November 16, 2012
GLYNIS VALENTI - Staff Writer , Times Leader

BELMONT-"The return on investment is not working," says Union Local Superintendent H. Kirk Glasgow. He and school board member Terry Puperi presented information on the charter school system and its effect on public education financing.

According to a press release from the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools (CORAS) charter schools are "siphoning" more than twice the state aid that public schools receive from tax dollars. The total allocation by the Ohio Legislature to "promote charter schools at the expense of public schools" is $777 million. Glasgow's point was that the state's push toward privatization and funneling taxpayer money into that push has produced less than mediocre results.

For instance, 41 percent of public schools earned an "Excellent" in the State's report card rating system; seven percent of charter schools achieved the same rating. Ohio public schools receiving the highest rating, "Excellent with Distinction," reached 23 percent; one percent of charter schools received that rating.

Glasgow states that less than one-tenth of one percent of Ohio's public school districts are under "academic watch," while the percentage of charter schools is 15.6 percent. Worse, .003 percent of public districts are in "academic emergency," and 18.7 percent of charter schools have the same designation.

Puperi notes the lack of accountability in for-profit charter schools because they are private businesses developed with the idea of making money for the administrators and taking community input and participation away. He also differentiates charter schools from the non-profit religious-affiliated schools that are held to state standards. The average public school receives $3,033 per student from the state; online schools receive $6,320 per student. The state now pays an average of $7,004 per student to charter schools.

"We want to stop the war on public education. These schools are making money off of taxpayers," says Puperi. "We want the public to understand what our governor is doing to public education. Talk to your family and friends. Put signs in your yard."

At October's board of education meeting, members brought up the possibility of using a portion of the district's oil and gas lease capital improvement fund for education-oriented expenses such as updated computers and textbooks. At Thursday's meeting members reviewed a "wish list" created by building administrators and department heads. The board decided to allot $91,500 to district priorities on the wish list and reserve $91,500 in the fund for emergency or unforeseen expenses.

New middle school principal Sam Lucas gave the board an overview on his school and activities. "This is one of the best middle schools I've seen," he began. "The kids can feel safe. There is an excellent staff who care about the kids and do a good job." He called the 21st Century Community Learning Center "superb" and "one of the top programs in Ohio." He noted that the recent Harvest Queen competition and dance netted $8,000 for the eighth grade trip.

Jessica Martin, a representative from AEP, distributed information on a school fundraiser with AEP Energy. AEP Ohio customers can now switch to AEP Energy and lock in a rate of 6.49 cents per kilowatt hour for one year. There are no hidden fees for switching, and the only difference, she says, will be the reduction in rates. Households filling out one of the enrollment consent forms from the school will earn the district $25 per form. AEP Energy will donate $100 per form filled out by businesses to Union Local. Contact Union Local district office or visit www.aerophilately.com for more information.

Board members approved the following supplemental contracts: David Chambers, 8th grade girls basketball; Sam Nardo, Mike Saffell, Byron Romanyak, all co-track coach, assistant varsity; Eric Kerns, 8th grade boys basketball; Mark Cisar, baseball head coach; April Linard, Beth Edwards, co-Drama Club advisors; Larry Falbo, middle school after school detention.

The Union Local Board of Education meets the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the high school library.

Valenti can be reached at gvalenti@timesleaderonline.com.

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