Tag Archives: Ohio

Study says Ohio’s virtual charters can’t replace the traditional school experience

Source: Jamie Martines, The Hechinger Report, August 10, 2016

Virtual charter schools can give students who are falling behind in traditional schools a chance to find success in an alternative learning environment. But can virtual charter schools fully replace the traditional face-to-face school experience? New York University professor June Ahn, the author of a new study examining the state of Ohio’s virtual charter schools published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, doesn’t think the current virtual school model can do that. In fact, he said that thinking of virtual charter schools as complete alternatives to traditional schooling might even be contributing to students’ poor academic performance. … In Ohio, students who want to take even just one online course—whether it’s to make up for a course they failed or to take an advanced course in a subject they excel in—must opt out of their local school entirely and take all of their courses online. They do not have the option to combine elements of face-to-face schooling with online studies in a virtual charter school. As a result, some students may not be getting the social and emotional support they need to be successful in virtual charter school programs, the study said. …


Enrollment and Achievement in Ohio’s Virtual Charter Schools
Source: June Ahn, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, August 2, 2016

Fordham’s latest study, conducted by learning technology researcher June Ahn from NYU, dives into one of the most promising—and contentious—issues in education today: virtual schools. What type of students choose them? Which online courses do students take? Do virtual schools lead to improved outcomes for kids?   With over thirty-five thousand students enrolled in its fully online charter schools (“e-schools”), Ohio boasts one of the country’s largest populations of full-time virtual students. The sector has also grown tremendously, with a 60 percent increase in enrollment over the past four years—more than any other type of public school. Using four years of comprehensive student-level data to examine Ohio’s e-schools, the study finds:

  • E-school students are mostly similar in race and ethnicity to students in brick-and-mortar district schools. But e-school students are lower-achieving (and more likely to have repeated the prior grade), more likely to participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, and less likely to participate in gifted education.
  • Students taking online math courses are more likely to enroll in basic classes relative to students taking face-to-face courses. Almost no students take advanced math courses (like AP Statistics, Calculus, or Algebra II) online, especially compared to students who take face-to-face classes.
  • Across all grades and subjects, students who attend e-schools perform worse on state tests than otherwise-similar students who attend brick-and-mortar district schools, even accounting for prior achievement. In contrast, students in grades 4–8 who attend brick-and-mortar charter schools perform slightly better than their district school counterparts in both reading and math. Results are mixed but modest for students in grade ten.
  • Findings also suggest that e-schools drag down the performance of the entire charter sector.

Read full report.

Amid Building Boom, Debate over Publicly Funded Stadiums Goes On

Source: Elaine S. Povich, Pew Charitable Trust, July 11, 2016

Missouri and St. Louis tried mightily to keep the NFL Rams from decamping for Los Angeles, offering $400 million in state and city money for a new stadium. To justify the public expense, officials argued that the team, which moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis two decades ago, was an economic engine for the region. They offered to put up the money even though the Rams’ billionaire owner, Stan Kroenke, could afford to build a new stadium on his own. … Two other NFL teams, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders, also are eyeing a move to the nation’s second largest city. But Nevada is hoping to grab the Raiders for itself, by dangling a $1.4 billion stadium that would be paid for, at least in part, by the taxpayers. Meanwhile in Atlanta, construction is underway on a new $950 million stadium for the NFL Falcons, to be financed partly through bonds secured by extending a tax on hotel and motel rooms. Amid all the jockeying, a decadeslong debate rages on: Does it make economic sense for cities and states to use public money to build sports facilities? …

… But many economists maintain that states and cities that help pay for new stadiums and arenas rarely get their money’s worth. Teams tout new jobs created by the arenas but construction jobs are temporary, and ushers and concession workers work far less than 40 hours a week.  Furthermore, when local and state governments agree to pony up money for stadiums, taxpayers are on the hook for years — sometimes even after the team leaves town. St. Louis, for example, is still paying $6 million a year on debt from building the Edward Jones Dome, the old home of the Rams that opened in 1995, despite the team’s move to California. The debt is financed by a hotel tax and taxes on “game day” revenues like concessions and parking. …


New stadiums cost more than just money
Source: Yousef Baig, The Weekly Calistogan, July 29, 2015

…The first place to start is with the financing. A few years ago, a Harvard urban planning professor named Judith Grant Long put out a book called “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities” that shed some light onto what these deals really cost taxpayers and the subsequent spillover effect into other areas. … The average public/private partnership has the cities forking over 78 percent of the costs, and the teams themselves just 22 percent. Additionally, she added, taxpayers spent about $10 billion more than originally estimated on the construction of all 121 stadiums that were in use during 2010. Ownership groups (made up of billionaires) tell city officials that they can’t afford the hundreds of millions of dollars required to erect these modern coliseums. They talk about the boon it will bring to the surrounding area, the increase in tourism, and the creation of jobs, while in the same breath, threatening to leave for another city if they don’t oblige. …

Hamilton County, which took on stadiums for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds in the mid-1990s, has been crippled with debt ever since. In 2013 alone, annual stadium expenses totaled $43 million. Since these two stadiums were built, a public hospital was sold, mass transit investments were put off, and the tiny amount of private development along the Ohio River, which was a big selling point to get an increase in sales tax approved, has still required additional public subsidies. …
To afford the $720 million required to build Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, the city raised hotel, restaurant and rental car tax rates. Five months after it opened in 2008, a first-year deficit of $25 million was projected to jump to $45 million a year later. In June 2013, the city of Detroit, amid a financial crisis and filing for bankruptcy, stayed the course with its $444 million hockey arena for the Red Wings. A $450 million bond with a 30-year term fit the average arrangement mentioned in Long’s book, leaving taxpayers responsible for $283 million of it. …

John Oliver: How Sports Teams Are Ripping Us Off
Source: Marlow Stern, Daily Beast, July 12, 2015

After a week off, John Oliver and his award-worthy HBO program Last Week Tonight are back, and this time, they’re targeting one of America’s favorite pastimes: pro sports….. “The vast majority of stadiums are made using public money,” said Oliver, citing a report from 2012 stating there’s been “$12 billion spent on the 51 new facilities opened between 2000 and 2010.” “Which begs the question: Why?” he asked…… But the theory that building a new stadium boosts a city’s economy is, according to an economic study cited by Oliver, a total myth. “A major review of almost 20 years of studies shows economists could find no substantial evidence that stadiums had increased jobs, incomes, or tax revenues,” he said….Recently, Hamilton County, Ohio, spent more than $50 million on stadium debt service and other costs in 2014 for the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, even though the county has had to sell a public hospital, cut 1,700 jobs, and delay payments for schools because of budget gaps.

Source: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, July 12, 2015

Cities spend massive amounts of public money on privately-owned stadiums. Cities issue tax-exempt municipal bonds that — wait, don’t fall asleep!

Public-Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities
Source: Judith Grant Long, Routledge, ISBN-13: 978-0415806930, 2012
(purchase required)

This volume takes readers inside the high-stakes game of public-private partnerships for major league sports facilities, explaining why some cities made better deals than others, assessing the best practices and common pitfalls in deal structuring and facility leases, as well as highlighting important differences across markets, leagues, facility types, public actors, subsidy delivery mechanisms, and urban development aspirations. It concludes with speculations about the next round of facility replacement amidst rapid changes in broadcast technology, shrinking domestic audiences, and the globalization of sport.

Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Subsidies for Sports Franchises, Stadiums, and Mega-Events?
Source: Dennis Coates and Brad R. Humphreys, Econ Journal Watch, Vol 5 no. 3, September 2008

From the abstract:
This paper reviews the empirical literature assessing the effects of subsidies for professional sports franchises and facilities. The evidence reveals a great deal of consistency among economists doing research in this area. That evidence is that sports subsidies cannot be justified on the grounds of local economic development, income growth or job creation, those arguments most frequently used by subsidy advocates. The paper also relates survey evidence showing that economists in general oppose sports subsidies. In addition to reviewing the empirical literature, we describe the economic intuition that probably underlies the strong consensus among economists against sports subsidies.

Mid-County Ambulance District to exit contract with Mercy LifeStar

Source: Marie Thomas Baird, Sentinel-Tribune, June 30, 2016

The Mid-County Ambulance District is separating from its contract with Mercy LifeStar Ambulance, but plans to continue providing emergency medical services. … The ambulance district, which serves Plain, Portage and Center townships plus the village of Portage, has been in business since 1992. But Mercy LifeStar wants to double its contract fees with the district, leading leaders to opt out and become an independent provider. … Bechstein pointed out that Grand Rapids Township left Mercy LifeStar last year after not receiving a new bid for service, “so we’re talking about going out on our own” too. He estimated the district has 40 runs each month, many on the interstate and Ohio routes that cut through its service area. … To renew the contract that expires Dec. 31, it would cost nearly double, he added. Their current contract with Mercy LifeStar is $198,654, according to Denise Foos. The district owns the building on County Home Road but Mercy LifeStar owns the vehicles and pays the salaries. The employees on staff with Mercy LifeStar want to work for the district, he said. …


Source: Aarian Marshall, Wired, June 23, 2016

….. If all goes according to plan, the Ohio capital will soon burst with electric vehicles, autonomous shuttles, platooning trucks, and bus rapid transit, which will sail through smart traffic lights that turn green just for them. Every resident will benefit.  Foxx today declared Columbus the winner of the $40 million Smart City Challenge, a competition that asked mid-size governments to envision how their city could capitalize on growing overlaps in transportation and technology. Announced in December, it’s the first of its kind: a speedy grant process buttressed by public-private partnerships, with money for cities instead of states. Of the 78 cities that competed, seven made it to the final round: Austin, Texas; Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Columbus…. Foxx says Columbus isn’t the only winner here. The six losing finalists can pursue their own plans, with technical and financial assistance from the DOT and its private sector partners, including Alphabet, Mobileye, Autodesk, NXP Semiconductors, and Vulcan. Even those who didn’t make it to the final round now hold detailed plans that could lead to their own equitable transportation futures. Columbus is just the first guy on the dance floor. ….

Council meeting raises questions about office elimination

Source: Zack Lemon, Mansfield News-Journal, June 21, 2016

Some city officials are questioning how the decision to eliminate the community development office last Wednesday was made, and why certain issues were not brought to their attention earlier. The three employees who were notified all spoke at the meeting, presenting their case to council and the administration. Human resources director Dave Remy presented the city’s timeline, which law director John Spon questioned during Tuesday night’s council meeting. … Sam Dunn, the community development office’s current manager, is retiring on July 15. Remy said he and the mayor’s office explored finding a new manager for the position, but were not successful. … American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spokesman Dan Mapes proposed hiring a manager from a private company. … Ohio Regional Development Corporation is a nonprofit agency that currently assists Richland County and the cities of Shelby, Bucyrus and Ashland. Its president, Dale Hartle, was at the meeting Tuesday. The city contacted him and brought his company into the city, Hartle said, and he agreed to consider hiring the current employees. …


Community development office eliminated
Source: Linda Martz, News Journal, June 16, 2016

Workers in Mansfield’s community development department were told Wednesday the office will be disbanded when its current manager retires in July and the work they are responsible for handed over to an out-of-town nonprofit group. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spokesman Dan Mapes said he was told the city plans to hire Ohio Regional Development Corp. in Coshocton to handle work currently done internally within the city. The community development office oversees hearings on the city’s annual federal block grant and HOME money allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It supervises home rehabilitation projects and demolition done using those funds. … The city’s human resources director, Dave Remy, said city officials considered either hiring a new manager or outsourcing the work to an outside entity. “We came to the conclusion, with the urging of HUD and its Columbus office, to really consider going with a nonprofit corporation here in Ohio that deals exclusively with community development programming and works with assisting other communities in the state, Richland County and north central Ohio,” he said. … Three workers, Jerry Bandy, Debra Paseilich and Adrian Ackerman, learned Wednesday they will lose their current positions, effective June 27, under what was described as a reorganization …

Private ambulance company plans hiring spree

Source: Kaitlin Schroeder, Dayton Business Journal, June 14, 2016

A private ambulance company is planning a hiring blitz and opening a new location in Dayton. Buckeye Ambulance is moving from Centerville to Dayton, which will mean three times more space and major hiring in the near future, according to a press release from the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. … Buckeye Ambulance started in 2012 with the purchase of two ambulances and has since grown to nearly 50 vehicles, including a mix of ambulance, wheelchair vans and supporting command vehicles. It specializes in inner hospital transports and getting clients to and from doctor office visits and specialty appointments. Along with the new facility, Buckeye plans to hire 100 to 150 people to add to its current local workforce of 100. Buckeye will hold onsite interviews for EMT’s, advanced paramedics and ambulette drivers. …

Phantom Students—One Part of a Much Bigger Problem of Unregulated Charter Schools

Source: Jan Ressenger, National Education Policy Center, May 16, 2016

Ohio’s Senate Bill 298, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni’s proposed law to ensure that the state is paying online charter schools for real students, not merely phantom students, will have a fourth hearing this week. Ohio pays on-line charter schools nearly $7,000 per pupil. According to Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy, e-schools are draining approximately $250 million in public dollars to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), the Ohio Virtual Academy—a K12 Inc. affiliate, and other e-schools. … Senator Schiavoni’s proposed law to prevent such a practice is pretty basic—require e-schools to keep accurate records of the number of hours students spend doing coursework—require the online school to notify the Ohio Department of Education if a student fails to log-in for ten consecutive days—require that a qualified teacher check in with each student once a month to monitor active participation. … Even though some of the charter management companies have affiliates across many states, charters are established and regulated in state law. A very serious problem across the states is the lack of uniform charter school regulations.  Jessica Calefati of the Bay Area News Group published a scathing report in mid-April of some of the California affiliates of K12 Inc., the same national company that runs the Ohio Virtual Academy…

…Lack of oversight of the charter school sector, clearly a problem in Ohio and California, seems also to be a federal problem.  Just last week, Arn Pearson, General Counsel for The Center for Media and Democracy filed a formal appeal demanding that the U.S. Department of Education search documents of the federal Charter Schools Program more carefully for records about the charter schools that have received federal funding but may have been closed. … Charter schools were created as an experiment to encourage innovation by removing what critics of public schools called the bonds of bureaucratic regulation.  Clearly more than twenty years into this experiment, what is happening instead is widespread profiteering from tax dollars.  And too few people are paying enough attention to build sufficient political will to stop the ripoff.

Audit finds defunct Akron charter school mishandled records, took state overpayments

Source: Doug Livingston, Akron Beacon-Journal, May 12, 2016

A state audit released this week cited Next Frontier Academy, a defunct West Akron charter school, for shoddy record-keeping and taking money for students it couldn’t prove existed. … Auditors could not quantify the cost of misleading enrollment figures but did ask that the shuttered school repay $47,688 in money for career education. Where the other $450,000 in state aid went remains a mystery as the state adds the misspending to the more than $25 million in penalties yet to be repaid by Ohio charter schools. Next Frontier opened three years ago in a Copley Road church; it failed to find success teaching farming to city students and sparked a state investigation. … The charter school encouraged hard work and promised to pay students for washing dishes and cooking food, which they grew through partnerships with local farms. The food was subsequently sold in area stores. But students who were promised compensation received no pay. The Ohio Department of Education approved extra tax funding to pay for the “Career-Technical Education” program. ODE began docking some of that funding in December 2015 when enrollment records didn’t add up. But auditors could find no indication that the school’s board or sponsor, Tri-County Educational Service Center, was made aware. … State auditors did discover that student records lacked birth certificates or proof of residency — items essential to ensuring students exist and that state funding is being diverted from the right local school district. …

Walbridge seeks public input before outsourcing police

Source: Debbie Rogers, Sentinel Tribune, May 5, 2016

Before the potential closure of the police department, council and the mayor want to hear from the community. … A couple of community members gave their opinions on outsourcing the police department to save money, which was proposed last month. … Kolanko said the majority of residents want to keep a police force in Walbridge. But finances may dictate outsourcing. “It’s not fun to talk about, but if you want to be a good manager of finances, it’s a conversation you have to have,” he said. “If we can keep it here – and that’s the feedback from the community … that will be a priority.” However, if the quotes come back high, the village may look at what can be done to restructure the department to try to save money. The 2016 annual police budget is $405,000, Kolanko said. Letters asking for proposals were sent on April 25 to Lake Township, Northwood and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office. The village is asking for a minimum of one police officer present in the village at all times, attendance at one council meeting a month, continuation of the block watch program, a multi-year agreement for service, and 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week coverage. …

Money lost to charter schools angers traditional education officials

Source: Evan Goodenow, Oberlin News Tribune, May 2, 2016

Local school districts are demanding a refund from the state. Districts across our community newspapers’ coverage area lose about $5,800 per student in state taxpayer money when students leave for charter schools, more than twice what districts receive in state aid per student. … Oberlin, which lost about $2.6 million between 2000 and last year, is expected to pass a resolution May 24 seeking a refund from the Ohio Department of Education and asking the legislature to directly fund charters to eliminate the disparity. … If the resolution passes, Oberlin will join the Amherst, Elyria, Firelands, Keystone, North Ridgeville and Sheffield/Sheffield Lake school districts in seeking refunds and funding formula changes. The Wellington Schools are considering passing a resolution May 17, said Wellington Superintendent Dennis Mock. The resolutions seek a combined $82 million, according to Greg Ring, superintendent at the Educational Service Center of Lorain County. …