The Reynoldsburg Board of Education officially settled a dispute with the Ohio Department of Education, ending an appeal the district filed last year over its "poor" rating for sponsorship of five charter schools.

In the agreement board members approved last month, the district agreed to relinquish control of five charter schools, A+ Arts Academy; Brookwood Academy; Everest High School; Patriot Preparatory Academy and Virtual Community School of Ohio.

Not being a sponsor will cost the district money.

State dollars support each charter school, but sponsors may receive up to 3 percent of the school's per-pupil state revenue. They also receive fees to help pay a staff member to supervise the schools.

Treasurer Tammy Miller said in fiscal year 2017, the Reynoldsburg district collected $521,134 in sponsorship fees.

However, school board President Joe Begeny and member Debbie Dunlap both said they are glad the district is out of the charter-school business.

"I am happy that Reynoldsburg is no longer sponsoring charter schools, as we should be focused on our own district," Begeny said.

"Charter sponsorship existed long before I became a school board member and I was willing to support that commitment as long as the charters we sponsored were viable and met a need that public schools could not," Dunlap said. "But it was important to me to see proof of that success, and at times we were not."

Dunlap said now that the ODE has taken away the sponsorships, the district could focus on its own students.

"I truly believe that is where our commitment lies," she said.

The Reynoldsburg district was one of 21 in Ohio to be given a "poor" rating by the state last October, which meant the state could strip the district of its sponsorship abilities.

Other districts in central Ohio that earned the same poor rating were Groveport Madison, Pickerington and Hamilton Local Schools.

Every charter school in Ohio must have a sponsor. Sponsors do not run the schools. Instead, they contract with the charter school's governing board to oversee operations, making sure they comply with laws and that they teach students effectively.

Sponsors are scored on three equally weighted areas: student performance, compliance with rules and laws and use of quality practices.

Reynoldsburg filed an appeal of its poor rating with the ODE a year ago in an attempt to change it, then decided last month to settle in order to avoid legal fees.

"The parties agree that they are entering into this agreement solely because they wish to resolve the dispute without the time and expense involved in legal proceedings including the appeal hearing," stated the agreement.

Sponsorship of Everest High School and Patriot Prep Academy will be assumed by St. Aloysius Orphanage in Cincinnati, under terms of the agreement, while the ODE agreed to sponsor Brookwood Academy, A+ Arts Academy and VCS.

Everest High School at 1555 Graham Road, is a dropout/recovery school for high school students.

VCS of Ohio offered online learning for grades K-12 and was located in Waggoner Road Middle School, 340 Waggoner Road. VCS officials decided to close the school in August after the ODE billed them more than $4 million because of attendance issues similar to those that led to an ongoing dispute between ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) with the ODE.

Brookwood Academy is for students with disabilities who have significant special needs. It is located at Brookwood Presbyterian Church, 2685 E. Livingston Ave.

Superintendent Melvin Brown said there would be extra space available at Waggoner Road Middle School, since VCS did not open this school year.

"We are not sure yet how that space will be repurposed, but we do have that extra space," he said.

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