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Charter likely to get OK



Published: Tue, July 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A new report shows charter schools have had a significant impact on the Youngstown public schools.

By RON COLE

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The State Board of Education is expected to approve a contract that will keep Legacy Academy charter school on the city's South Side open for at least five years.

"The school put together a solid education plan and proposal," said J.C. Benton, Ohio Department of Education spokesman.

"We're very pleased," said Atty. Matthew Blair, a member of Legacy Academy's board.

Last summer, the Lucas County Educational Service Center in Toledo approved a charter school contract for Legacy to operate a school for children in kindergarten through 10th grade at Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church.

Legacy was founded by Bishop Norman Wagner, the church's pastor.

In December, the city school board filed a lawsuit contending that Lucas County cannot sponsor a charter school outside Lucas County. The state education department agreed and withheld funds from the school.

In March, the parties settled the legal dispute, restoring funding to the school and requiring that Legacy get another sponsor for the 2002-03 school year. Blair said the city school board rejected Legacy's overtures to sponsor the academy. Legacy then approached the State Board of Education, which is expected to approve the contract today.

Meanwhile, a report released Monday shows that charter schools have had a significant impact on the Youngstown public schools.

Statistics

Of the 11,140 pupils included in the Youngstown public schools' official enrollment count, 1,268, or nearly 11.5 percent, are attending charter schools, the report from the Education Tax Policy Institute says.

That's the second-highest percentage among Ohio's 21 urban school districts. Only Dayton is higher, where nearly 14.5 percent of the city's 22,127 pupils are in charter schools.

In the 1998-99 school year, $2.9 million was deducted from the Youngstown public schools' state funding and transferred to charter schools, the report said.

In the 2001-02 school year, the deduction amounted to $8.1 million, nearly 13 percent of the school district's total state aid.

That was the third-highest percentage among the state's 21 urban school systems, trailing only Dayton (20 percent) and Cincinnati (19 percent).

Charter schools are privately operated, yet publicly funded schools that do not charge tuition and receive about $5,000 per pupil annually in state and local funds.

Nearly 100 such schools have opened in Ohio since 1998, including five in Youngstown. A sixth is slated to open this fall.




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