Are charter school building leases fleecing Ohio taxpayers?

Source: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, January 21, 2019

For-profit management companies are receiving rents from the Ohio charter schools they operate that are significantly higher than rents of comparable buildings in the same area, according to a report released by former state auditor Dave Yost. Cincinnati charter school Orion Academy paid $867,000 more to lease its facilities in 2016 than what was paid for comparable buildings in the area, according to a recent state auditor’s report. In 2015, Cleveland-based Harvard Avenue Performance Academy paid about $516,000 above market value for its facilities. That taxpayer money went to subsidiaries of the schools’ for-profit management companies, National Heritage Academies and Imagine Schools. Imagine became non-profit in mid-2015, and the numbers account for only one year of multiyear leases. The payments were highlighted by former state Auditor Dave Yost who, in one of his last acts before switching offices to become Ohio attorney general, issued a 30-page, public-interest report examining problems with the way charter schools obtain and pay for their facilities. …

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