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Ohio's Schools Lost Nearly $600 Million To ECOT Since 2012

ECOT statehouse rally
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press

A progressive think tank says data from the Ohio Department of Education’s website shows not only how much state money went to the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, but also how much traditional public school districts lost to what was the state’s largest online charter school.

Innovation Ohio notes local school districts have to pay charter schools for each of the district’s students enrolled in those charters.

That added up to $591 million just to ECOT over six years, including around a half a million dollars from Federal Hocking Local in Athens County, where George Wood is the superintendent.

“It’s a teacher and an aide. It’s three times what we spend on textbooks. It’s a new bus every year. And it all went to a school district that didn’t exist called ECOT,” Wood said.

Some districts say they’ve had to turn to levies to make up the losses. Innovation Ohio says all but six of Ohio’s 613 districts lost money and kids to ECOT. The closed school is still fighting in court over $80 million in payments the state says it should repay for inflating attendance, which ECOT disputes.

Columbus City Schools lost $62.7 million to ECOT from the 2012-2013 to 2016-2017 school years, the most of any district in the state. Cleveland schools was the second biggest loser with $39.4 million going to ECOT. 

South-Western City Schools in Franklin County lost $16.1 million to ECOT, the fourth highest total.