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Reforms of public charter schools in Ohio need to go much further


Published: Sun, April 12, 2015 @ 12:00 a.m.

Reforms of public charter schools in Ohio need to go much further

As outlined in this news- paper’s April 4 editorial “Charter reform bill falls short of the goal of full transparency,” financial disclosure and accountability for public charter schools is critical. My organization, the Ohio 8 Coalition, suggests that Ohio House Bill 2 go further in two specific ways.

First, it should require all charter school operator financial records to be publicly audited and disclosed. Accountability for the millions of public tax dollars sent to charter schools is now lost once given to the operator. Traditional public schools have at least two audits each year. Why set up a separate fiscal accountability system for public charter schools that have the same charge and responsibility on behalf of our kids?

The status of private operators should not exempt them from being accountable to the public, and in fact, such a relationship should demand accountability as a part of doing business with Ohio taxpayers.

And second, we suggest requirements are established that prohibit a charter school from reopening under a new name with the same sponsor, operator, board, or treasurer. Under current law, charter schools that close under a definition other than “permanent closure” are exempt from the limitations on reopening. In order to ensure that poorly performing charter schools that have closed for any reason do not reopen without making major administrative changes, it is critical that we clarify the language of the law in this way.

It should be noted that the Ohio 8 Coalition partners with high-performing charter schools in our communities to ensure that students, regardless of their school setting, are receiving a quality education. We believe that high-quality learning environments are more likely to exist in places where financial accountability and transparency are demanded.

Holding public charter schools and their operators and traditional public schools to the same financial reporting, auditing standards and ensuring closure requirements close existing loopholes will help us achieve this collective goal.

Lori L. Ward, Dayton

Ward is co-chairwoman of The Ohio 8 Coalition, an alliance of school superintendents and teacher-union presidents from Ohio’s eight major urban school districts that include Youngstown.

Do not expand VA facilities; let veterans get private care

All veterans should demand the proper Medicare card and required referral to a family doctor for everyday treatment instead of enduring the long drives and longer waits needed for VA care. Any expansion of VA facilities to meet supposed needs only grossly enlarges the existing medical complexes and staff, and government intrusion and waste of borrowed money.

I speak from experience in not using VA — only private sector, and I am going on 76. A VA Medicard for private treatment is a strong step toward better service for those who earned it, at reduced cost and the removal of the government from our personal lives.

The government needs to tighten its belt on spending foreign borrowed funds and stop bleeding the taxpayer. All citizens and vets need to speak up and be heard and force corrective action

Daniel Victor Bienko, Canfield

In aftermath of sales tax OK, trust broken can’t be restored

As a voter who SUPPORTED the 0.75 percent sales tax in last fall’s election, it was done knowing full well my Social Security dollars would be stretched to the limit.

My reasoning was that of a lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley who always felt blessed and grateful to live in a community where the majority of people are good, God loving, and hard working. This is a community with good schools and educators, beautiful churches, entertainment centers, great restaurants and a variety of stores. And even though jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, a continuous effort to bring new business into the community is ongoing.

Common sense dictated my reasoning. As much as I hate getting shots, I realize the pinch of the needle will result in making me feel better. A community cannot prosper or grow if important and needed facilities are not maintained.

I believe a community is a family and I was raised that family members always helps one another even when sacrifices must be made to benefit those in need.

The sales tax was supported and passed because of the voters’ trust. To me trust is sacred, and when it is broken, future failure may result when support is most needed.

Those entrusted with managing public funds would be wise to remember that “Trust once broken — like the passing of time — can never be restored.”

Mary Lou Jurina, Youngstown


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