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Community Schools

Community Schools

General Information

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


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 public schools 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. There are two types of community schools in Ohio: start-up community schools and conversion community schools.


Sponsors ensure that schools adhere to their contracts, and they make important decisions, such as whether to renew contracts with community schools. The also provide oversight and technical assistance. The contracts between sponsors and schools include provisions required by law and may include specific terms negotiated between the sponsor and the school.

Sponsor Accountability

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.

Community School Operators

Many community schools choose to contract with operators to manage their daily operations. An operator works under a contract with the school’s governing authority and acts similarly to the central office of a traditional school district. The Department issues an annual performance report for each community school operator based on its school’s performance the previous year.

Community School Legislation

Since 1997, Ohio has supported the development of community schools as an alternative to the traditional K-12 public schools program. Many legislative actions have changed the landscape of community schools in Ohio since 1997. Statutes applicable for community schools are found throughout the Ohio Revised Code but are primarily found in Chapter 3314.