YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Summit Academy in Youngstown is responding to a surprise state audit that found far fewer students in the building than reported.
When auditors went in unannounced to do a head count at charter schools, some found as many as 83 percent of students unaccounted for.
Jim Bostic, executive vice president of Summit Academy, which had a much smaller discrepancy, said there is a reason for the difference in numbers at his schools.
“Are there charter schools that maybe try to misinterpret rules? Probably, sadly, that happens, I think, in all of our industries. And shame on them. And if that’s happening, then they’re not doing it for the right reasons,” Bostic said.
At Summit Academy Secondary School, the state audit counted only 143 of the 224 students listed on funding reports. Bostic says the discrepancy in the numbers exists because many students are taught at outside “residential centers,” where they’ve been placed by the courts or by parents.
“What we do is we go in and we actually provide a full school day for those students, anywhere from four to six hours of education,” Bostic said.
State senator Joe Schiavoni said he is glad the auditor is looking into the enrollment numbers at charter schools, where the state is paying for education.
“Some of these folks are taking advantage of kids and making money. They make the money, they close the doors, and they move to the next state, or they move to the next part of the country,” Schiavoni said.
Schiavoni is sending a bill to the State Senate requiring tighter oversight of Charter Schools.
“It requires each community school sponsor an operator to put together a commission for public records, so public records are readily available and we have that accountability, we have that transparency. That’s what public schools have to do,” Schiavoni said.
Bostic said he supports the idea of transparency.
“We have nothing to hide, especially at Summit Academy. And I don’t think many of the charters do,” Bostic said.
Schiavoni says the important date for his bill is February 2. That’s when Governor Kasich will release his budget proposal, and Schiavoni hopes it will include more funding for the oversight of charter schools.