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Lawmakers Explore Complicated Issue Of E-School Funding

Andy Chow
Erik Tritsch, executive director Fairborn Digital Academy testifies before the Ohio Joint Committee on E-School Funding in the South Senate Hearing Room in Columbus.

The Ohio House and Senate is exploring its options when it comes to how the state gives money to e-schools. But as lawmakers are discovering, the issue gets complex when considering the different types of online academies.

There are digital platforms found within traditional public schools, charter schools, and dropout prevention and recovery schools.

The joint committee on e-school funding is trying to figure out what factor should be tied with funding, such as enrollment, course completion, and graduation. 

Erik Tritsch of the Fairborn Digital Academy says it should be a little of everything.

“This would allow schools to plan in budget for fixed costs of running a school and incentivize schools to help students make progress toward graduation. Which should be the goal of our students, not just logging into class,” Tritsch says.

Another question for the joint committee is whether or not the funding formula should vary depending on the kind of school.

Lawmakers say they plan to have in-depth conversations before possibly making recommendations in this year’s budget.

The issue made headlines when the Ohio Department of Education determined that the now closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, or ECOT, owed the state about $80 million. The education department said ECOT's student log-in data showed the state had overpaid the online charter school for students that were not participating in class.

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