Boardman Local School Supt. Frank Lazzeri was in Columbus on Tuesday testifying in support of legislation (SB 175) designed to allow public school students to transfer to charter schools, only if those charter schools score as well, or better than public schools that serve students wishing to transfer. Charter schools largely underperform when compared to public schools. The charter schools steal public funds that would otherwise be directed to public school systems. For example, over a 12-year period, charter school funding has drained more than $6 million out of the Boardman Local Schools. Following are excerpts of Supt. Lazzeri’s testimony before the Ohio Senate’s Education Committee.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today. My name is Frank Lazzeri and I am in my eighth year as Superintendent of Schools in Boardman and in my 40th year of serving the students and citizens of the Boardman Local School District. I am here to give testimony in support of Senators Schiavoni, Tavares, Cafaro and Sawyer’s SB 175.
More than most school districts in Ohio, the Boardman Local Schools is being negatively affected by this economy and the unintended consequences of community school legislation. In spite of this unprecedented down economy, our Board of Education, administration and teachers’ association have worked collaboratively to balance our budget and prepare for the continued success of our students.
Since the early 1970s the Boardman taxpayers have been supportive of the schools passing new operating millage about every three to five years. Currently, the last operating millage was passed in 2003.
Now comes the unprecedented challenge of community schools. This past year the Boardman Local School District sent $807,762 to community schools – all of which were underperforming and nearly half of which were on-line schools. Since the inception of community schools our district has lost over $6.1 million of funding to poor performing community schools. That money could have been used to reduce class size, upgrade buildings, purchase new computers and technology (which are old and in need of repair), or even build a new football/soccer stadium.
What is odd is the fact that the Boardman School District only receives about $1,400 per pupil in state foundation money. However, when a child leaves our district to attend a community school, $5,753 is deducted from our foundation money and given to the charter school. Keep in mind, on-line schools don’t have to provide transportation, heat and cool buildings (though we only have one air conditioned buildings out of seven), replace roofs, cut grass, tuckpoint brickwork, paint walls, replace carpeting, pave driveways and parking lots, replace students desks and tables, etc.
Generally speaking, community schools don’t offer the many extra and co-curricular activities that help make a well-educated person. Extracurricular activities are part of our American culture, part of our local communities and not just a benefit for school families. They help define what we are as a community. Who doesn’t get excited about “Friday Night Lights” each fall? Participation in these activities help students in many ways including: teaching them about time management and prioritizing; exploring diverse interests; learning about long-term commitments; making a contribution to the success of an organization; raising self-esteem; building solid relationship skills; and helping students get into better colleges and universities. None of this is possible at on-line schools which have very low overhead, yet they take a full share of taxpayer money to support a failing enterprise.
We in the Boardman Local School District embrace the competition from community schools, but let’s make sure there is a level playing field. Please consider Senate Bill 175 and keep high achieving public schools viable for the future of Ohio and our nation.
Attached are reports that document the impact community schools have had on our school district since their inception. Representatives from the school district and I stand ready to answer any questions the committee may have.