What is a charter school and how is it funded? 

A charter school in Ohio can either be a public charter or a non-public charter. ECOT specifically is a public charter, sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West. All public charter schools, like ECOT, must have a sponsor who among other things, oversee the schools wellbeing both financial and academic.

Public charter schools, such as ECOT, are funded primarily by State much like traditional school districts. The major difference is, traditional school districts receive both State funding and local funding for their students. Public charters, like ECOT, only receive the State portion of that funding ($5,900 per student for FY16). Because of this funding difference, public charter schools operate on a very tight budget as they more often than not, are educating students for a fraction of the cost of traditional public schools.


  • Ohio’s School Funding Model provides state foundation funding to districts, so that when combined with local dollars, the education needs of all resident students are met, regardless of where they are educated. When a student transfers to a charter school, that student’s funds transfer to the school the child actually attends. Ohio law requires the transfer from the state foundation dollars.
  • After the transfer, the local district has less state dollars, but fewer students. The amount of local funds available remains the same, but is now distributed amongst fewer students, making up for the decreased state revenue. There is no additional cost to local taxpayers (and charter parents pay local property taxes, too).
  • But, this isn’t the full story. All districts – but no charters - get substantial funds from the state over and beyond foundation funding. In 2014, districts received nearly $1.1 billion in property tax rollbacks and homestead exemptions and another $470 million in Tangible Personal Property reimbursements (source: LSC Redbook).
  • When the media, local school boards and Superintendents claim they only gets $XXXX per student compared to charters, it’s technically true if you only count foundation dollars, but they’re committing a sin of omission by not mentioning the millions in other state funds that their local district also receives even though they don't have the expense or responsibility of those students any longer. 
  • On average, students educated in traditional local school districts receive more in state and local funding than students that exit the district and go to a charter schools

What does the charter school landscape look like in Ohio?

Currently the landscape of charter schools in Ohio is a contentious one for two main reasons.

Money –When a student chooses to leave their traditional public school, their portion of State funding goes with them. Under current Ohio K-12 funding law, the state portion of money still goes to their traditional public school of residence, before being deducted and sent to their school of choice. This causes many superintendents and treasures to state they are “losing money” to those schools despite no longer being held accountable for that student’s education and keeping the local portion of that student’s educational money.

State Report Card Performance – By law charter schools can only operate in the “Urban 8” (Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, and Canton) areas of the state or in districts declared academic emergencies, causing most charters to reflect the demographics of the Urban 8 school districts. These districts tend to have students with greater poverty, limited English Language proficiency, and higher mobility than in most traditional school districts. Students in these demographic areas have historically struggled on State Report Card performance measures, most notably Value-Added, causing charter and Urban 8 schools to be rated as failures under the State Report Card. Because of this, charter school opponents point to these “outcomes” as reasons to shut down as many charters as possible. 

While charters are only allowed to locate in the Urban 8 or distressed districts, some charters while being located in the urban 8 do accept students from outside their designated areas. Eschool charters are designated as statewide which makes public charters like ECOT a universal option available to all of Ohio's kids even if they live outside of the Urban 8.

Why so much media controversy around ECOT's graduation rate and attendance?

What it the size, scope and growth trajectory of ECOT?

ECOT currently has nearly 15,000 students statewide supported by over 800 teachers and ECOT's live online classroom technology. Students are located in all 88 of Ohio’s counties and ECOT continues to grow unlike other online schools in Ohio. ECOT is currently growing at a pace of a little over 1% this year and has traditionally grown between 3-5% per year.

Who are the students?

The ECOT student body is the most diverse in the state. For students looking for an education without life barriers to students dealing with a variety of pressing circumstances, ECOT is an inclusive public school for all of Ohio's kids.

  • Students with Jobs
  • Students with Medical Issues
  • Professional Athletes and Musicians
  • Pregnant and Parenting Students
  • Bullied Students & Students Looking For a Safer Learning Environment
  • Students Wanting to Eliminate the Distractions of the Traditional Classrooms
  • Advanced Students Needing a Challenge
  • Students Needing to Change Schools Mid-year

 Impactful ECOT Student Demographics - 2016

Xavier McDaniel is a musician and an ECOT student

Leann Starr plays on a NCAA Beach Volleyball scholarship while finishing high school at ECOT.

Who are the teachers?

ECOT's over 800 teachers are state certified, highly qualified in their teaching area, and teach from their home offices.  ECOT has teachers in 67 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

What is the curriculum and what are the testing standards?

ECOT follows all State mandated testing and curriculum while also meeting standards above and beyond ones mandates by the State because of our accreditation with AdvancEd.  (A regional accreditation provider with standards that is more stringent that Ohio requires.)  Students must complete and pass all state mandated tests in order to graduate just as they would at their traditional public school.

What are the mechanics? How does it work?

Each ECOT student is provided a computer, tablet, printer/scanner and internet access by ECOT. Each student operates in a virtual classroom, provided by iQity. The learning management system supplied by iQity allows students the flexibility to download and complete classroom work after normal school hours to better accommodate their needs.

What is the student experience like?

The student experience is one of flexibility and innovation. ECOT allows students to work at their own pace at any time of day. This flexibility allows an ECOT student the ability to pursue other life passions while completing their high school education.

How do students socially benefit from the ECOT experience?

Students socially benefit from ECOT in many different ways. ECOT students interact with their teachers, counselors and classmates via live video, chat email, phone calls and text messages each school day. One of the great experiences at ECOT is online classmate friends connecting in person for the first time at field trips and club events from the far corners of the state.

ECOT offers over 30 different Clubs and over 60 field trips and family nights each year free of charge for ECOT students and their families.

From photography and art to yoga and government, ECOT has more than 30 clubs for students to join in online, local and blended formats

How does the graduation rate and overall student performance compare?

The DOE's calculation of a schools graduation rate is extremely misleading and does not reflect the many ECOT student success stories such as students who graduate after 5+ years in high school. These students count against ECOT’s overall graduation rate, but are some of our most treasured success stories. ECOT has now graduated over 20,000 students in its 16 year history. Graduation has grown from an initial class of 21 graduates in 2000 to 2300+ graduates in each of the last 4 graduating classes.

"On time" graduation rate rewards and penalizes the wrong schools for the wrong reasons.

Despite having less than 1% of Ohio public school enrollment, 5% of Ohio's graduates come from ECOT

Who are the parents and guardians?

ECOT parents are hardworking, salt of the earth people who want nothing more than their child’s educational success and happiness. For many others, ECOT is “the connect” they need to stay involved with their students education as they have more control and resources to accurately track their students success.


How Can I Get Involved?

Please visit our TAKE ACTION page to learn more.