COLUMBUS – Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) testified in support of his bill – Senate Bill 298 – which would improve attendance reporting and accountability at online charter schools, also known as e-schools.

“If students aren’t logging in, they aren’t learning,” said Senator Schiavoni. “When that happens, tax dollars are squandered and students lose out on the education they need and deserve.”

Senator Schiavoni’s bill follows reports from the Columbus Dispatch that Provost Academy, Lakewood Digital Academy, and Akron Digital Academy exaggerated their enrollment numbers. As a result, these schools over-billed Ohio taxpayers by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If other Ohio e-schools are overbilling to a similar extent, the state could be overpaying its online charter schools by tens of millions of dollars. Senator Schiavoni’s bill would strengthen reporting requirements and increase transparency to help prevent against overbilling and ensure that student are actually logging in and receiving an education. Three Ohio newspapers – the Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon Journal, and Youngstown Vindicator  have written in favor of the bill, which has received widespread bipartisan support.

“I believe e-schools can play a role in educating students who are in unique circumstances,” said Senator Schiavoni. “However, I fear that students who need the most intervention – the ones at risk of dropping out of school entirely – are slipping through the cracks because of the current lax attendance and accountability requirements in these online schools.”

This was the first hearing for Senate Bill 298. It now awaits additional hearings before it can be voted out of committee and sent to the Senate floor.

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