No, community schools are public schools that receive public funds.

They cannot charge tuition for the regular school day, but may charge fees for before and/or after school care.

Statutory provisions require teachers employed by or under contract with a community school to be certified as required by current law.

In Ohio, community schools receive their funding directly from the state. The amount must be equal to per-pupil funding of the student’s resident district, multiplied by 0.25. The amount is adjusted according to several factors such as special education and English language learners.

Every community school must be evaluated on academic progress and the outcomes agreed upon in the school's binding contract. In addition, individual schools are evaluated and assigned a school grade using the same standards and criteria as traditional public schools.

To help ensure accountability and quality in Ohio’s community school system, the Ohio Department of Education conducts yearly evaluations of sponsors. The sponsor evaluation system assists the Department in its oversight of sponsors and helps increase the quality of sponsor practices. The evaluation framework is made up of three equally weighted components (Academic Performance, Compliance and Quality Practices). Sponsor evaluation ratings are released annually on November 15.

Ohio community schools are public schools operating under an independent contract or “charter” with an authorizing agency—typically a non-profit organization, government agency or university. An individual, teachers, parents, a group of individuals, a municipality, or a legal entity may create a charter school.

The charter provides the school with operational autonomy to pursue specific educational objectives regarding curriculum, staff, and budget. It also holds them accountable to the same (often higher) standards of their district public school peers.

Parents in Ohio are empowered with multiple education options that allow them to make informed decisions to best meet their children’s individual needs. This supports the idea that one size doesn’t fit all and Ohio’s children deserve a high-quality education that is tailored to their needs.

Community schools, which are often called charter schools nationally and in other states, are tuition-free public schoolsopen to all created in Ohio law; are independent of any school district; and are part of the state’s education program. Community schools are public schools of choice and are state and federally funded. 

They are governed by non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that have a contract or charter to provide the same educational services to students as district public schools. The charter school model empowers teachers to provide innovative, high-quality instruction and gives them the autonomy to design a classroom that fits their students' needs.

Community schools are led by dynamic principals who have the flexibility to create a school culture that fosters student performance and parent satisfaction.

Community schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools, but are held accountable to the performance standards they agree to in their charter and by their communities.

Community schools are accountable to their sponsor, usually a state or local school board, to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract. The basic concept of charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy in return for this accountability. They are accountable for both academic results as well as fiscal practices to several groups: the sponsor that grants them, the parents who choose them, and the public that funds them.

The governing authority of each community school established under this chapter of the Ohio Revised Code shall adopt admission procedures that specify the following:

(A) That, except as otherwise provided in this section, admission to the school shall be open to any individual age five to twenty-two entitled to attend school pursuant to section 3313.64 or 3313.65 of the Revised Code in a school district in the state.

Additionally, except as otherwise provided in this section, admission to the school may be open on a tuition basis to any individual age five to twenty-two who is not a resident of this state. The school shall not receive state funds under section 3317.022 of the Revised Code for any student who is not a resident of this state.

An individual younger than five years of age may be admitted to the school in accordance with division (A)(2) of section 3321.01 of the Revised Code. The school shall receive funds for an individual admitted under that division in the manner provided under section 3317.022 of the Revised Code.

If the school operates a program that uses the Montessori method endorsed by the American Montessori society, the Montessori accreditation council for teacher education, or the association Montessori internationale as its primary method of instruction, admission to the school may be open to individuals younger than five years of age but the school shall not receive funds under section 3317.022 of the Revised Code for those individuals. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this chapter, individuals younger than five years of age who are enrolled in a Montessori program shall be offered at least four hundred fifty-five hours of learning opportunities per school year.

If the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the department of education under sections 3301.52 to 3301.59 of the Revised Code, admission to the school may be open to individuals who are younger than five years of age, but the school shall not receive funds under this chapter for those individuals.

(B)(1) That admission to the school may be limited to students who have attained a specific grade level or are within a specific age group; to students that meet a definition of "at-risk," as defined in the contract; to residents of a specific geographic area within the district, as defined in the contract; or to separate groups of autistic students and nondisabled students, as authorized in section 3314.061 of the Revised Code and as defined in the contract.

(2) For purposes of division (B)(1) of this section, "at-risk" students may include those students identified as gifted students under section 3324.03 of the Revised Code.

(C) Whether enrollment is limited to students who reside in the district in which the school is located or is open to residents of other districts, as provided in the policy adopted pursuant to the contract.

(D)(1) That there will be no discrimination in the admission of students to the school on the basis of race, creed, color, disability, or sex except that:

(a) The governing authority may do either of the following for the purpose described in division (G) of this section:

(i) Establish a single-gender school for either sex;

(ii) Establish single-gender schools for each sex under the same contract, provided substantially equal facilities and learning opportunities are offered for both boys and girls. Such facilities and opportunities may be offered for each sex at separate locations.

(b) The governing authority may establish a school that simultaneously serves a group of students identified as autistic and a group of students who are not disabled, as authorized in section 3314.061 of the Revised Code. However, unless the total capacity established for the school has been filled, no student with any disability shall be denied admission on the basis of that disability.

(2) That upon admission of any student with a disability, the community school will comply with all federal and state laws regarding the education of students with disabilities.

(E) That the school may not limit admission to students on the basis of intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or athletic ability, except that a school may limit its enrollment to students as described in division (B) of this section.

(F) That the community school will admit the number of students that does not exceed the capacity of the school's programs, classes, grade levels, or facilities.

(G) That the purpose of single-gender schools that are established shall be to take advantage of the academic benefits some students realize from single-gender instruction and facilities and to offer students and parents residing in the district the option of a single-gender education.

(H) That, except as otherwise provided under division (B) of this section or section 3314.061 of the Revised Code, if the number of applicants exceeds the capacity restrictions of division (F) of this section, students shall be admitted by lot from all those submitting applications, except preference shall be given to students attending the school the previous year and to students who reside in the district in which the school is located. Preference may be given to siblings of students attending the school the previous year. Preference also may be given to students who are the children of full-time staff members employed by the school, provided the total number of students receiving this preference is less than five per cent of the school's total enrollment.

Notwithstanding divisions (A) to (H) of this section, in the event the racial composition of the enrollment of the community school is violative of a federal desegregation order, the community school shall take any and all corrective measures to comply with the desegregation order.

Ohio’s Charter Law was passed to increase innovation, provide public educational options in the state and offer families choice and quality outside of neighborhood boundaries.

Community schools by law are publicly funded, tuition-free schools that provide unique educational opportunities for students. In Ohio, charter schools include special focus schools for drop-out recovery, STEM education, experiential learning, arts immersion, college preparatory and special education needs. 

Ohio’s community schools offer additional choices for families seeking nontraditional, K-12 public educational settings open to all children.

Tuition-free for Ohio students, these learning institutions are public, nonprofit, nonreligious schools that receive state and federal funds but are independent of traditional school districts.

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