By Randy Ludlow
Long-awaited reforms designed to improve the performance, accountability and transparency of charter schools were signed into law this morning by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
The governor signed House Bill 2 to upgrade oversight of the tax-funded, privately operated schools, some of which have been dogged by poor pupil academic performance and mismanagement of public dollars.
"While we are proud of Ohio's high-performing charter schools, there are too many that haven't been serving our kids with the quality they deserve," Kasich said in a statement.
"Making sure that our kids aren't stuck in failing schools has been a priority and this bill will profoundly benefit our children," the governor said.
Both the House and Senate passed the legislation, described as a "game-changer," with wide bipartisan support on Oct. 7 to send it to Kasich. The law will take effect in 90 days.
Ohio spends about $1 billion annually on charter schools with about 120,000 students.
The law demands more public accountability from school sponsors, seeks to eliminate conflicts of interest in operating the for-profit schools and creates more tools to address school short-comings.
The measure also prevents the sponsors of poor-performing schools from opening new ones, makes it harder for academically lagging schools to shop for new sponsors and ensures that classroom equipment purchased with public dollars remains the property of schools -- not their operator or management company.
Kasich had lobbied for the changes as advocates for school-choice feared that ongoing headlines about charter school scandals would drag down the system unless steps were taken to improve their performance and management.
The governor signed the bill this morning during a break in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
(c)2015 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)