Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Four more charter schools for Cincinnati

Ohio has now approved full complement

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Four charter schools in Cincinnati are among 39 tentatively approved Monday by the state. They are:

        • Alliance Academy, K-8, for 240 students.

        • Hamilton County Mathematics & Science Academy, K-8, 240 students.

        • M. Booth Academy, at-risk K-7, 112 students.

        • Phoenix Community Learning Center, K-8, 414 students.

        Businesswoman Wanda Corner said she drew on her own experience growing up in a single-parent family in inner-city Columbus when she decided to launch a charter school.

        Ms. Corner's Columbus Youth Entrepreneurship Academy is to open in 2002 with year-round classes, an entrepreneurship-oriented curriculum and internships at a variety of businesses.

        The state on Monday tentatively approved Ms. Corner's proposal and 38 other charter school applications. That increased the number of the publicly operated, privately run alternative schools to the maximum of 125 allowed under the 1997 law that permitted such schools.

        “We need to create a new generation of leaders,” Ms. Corner said. “Without youthful leaders, the economic prosperity of Columbus will die. We need to nurture and grow new leadership.”

        The schools approved Monday won't necessarily open next year. The approval means they can proceed in the application process.

        Of the 125 schools approved by the Department of Education, 54 are open and another 32 have received final approval but aren't open yet.

        Because several other public entities have also approved charter schools, Ohio has a total of 70 charter schools that are currently open, with a total enrollment of about 16,800.

        The state estimates it will provide about $95 million to those schools in state funding this school year.

        “The numbers definitely coincide with the national growth of charter schools,” said J.C. Benton, Department of Education spokesman.

        Sen. Jim Jordan, an Urbana Republican, said he and other lawmakers who support school choice want the cap lifted to allow more charter schools. “Where's there's choice, there's better education,” Mr. Jordan said.

        But Sen. Bill Harris, an Ashland Republican and Senate education committee vice chairman, said lawmakers need to know more about the job charter schools are doing before their numbers are expanded.

        Lucas County Educational Service Center sponsors the state's largest charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online school with an enrollment of about 2,050. It's expected to receive about $9.8 million in state funding this year.

        After eCOT, the next largest is Eagle Heights Academy in Youngstown with about 800 students and the Dayton Academy with about 780 students.

        WhiteHat Management Co. of Akron is the state's largest charter school operator, with 12 schools open and another 21 with approved contracts. WhiteHat applied to open an additional 11, but none were approved Monday.

        The state didn't want to add to the total of unopened schools with contracts, Benton said.

        Dayton has lost 2,729 students to charter schools and $14.6 million in state funding since the law took effect, according to the district. There are 12 charter schools now open in Dayton. The state approved an additional seven for the Dayton area on Monday.

        Dayton superintendent Jerrie Bascome McGill says competition provided by charter schools can be good for public schools, but says Ohio's funding formula for charter schools hurts districts, said spokeswoman Jill Moberley.


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