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Ohio Governor Plans Online College Budget Cuts

In a highly controversial move, Ohio governor Ted Strickland has announced plans for a 75% financial aid funding cut for online schools, mandating a drastic drop over the next two years from $5,700-per-pupil down to $1,500.

"He's turning their oxygen off," said Bill Sims, president and chief executive officer of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "There is no way these schools can function on essentially a fifth of the revenue provided to traditional schoolchildren."

According to the Ohio Department of Education, the state has 34 online schools serving more than 23,000 students.

A spokeswoman for Strickland's camp attempted to rationalize the decision for the press, noting that online institutions--with their lack of brick-and-mortar upkeep and utility bills--require less funding to run. They would simply be using a new formula, reportedly, based on an imagined classroom of 25 students per professor. Unfortunately, such a student/professor ratio is large in any upper division class and risks diminishing the quality and potential to build a one-on-one relationship between teachers and students.

If the legislature approves the governor's plan, it will be a death blow to online charter schools, said Mickey Revenaugh, vice president of Connections Academy, an online school serving 1,600 students statewide in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.

"The math just doesn't work out. It's not doable," she said.

Can online schools within the state fight back and oppose the funding cuts, or will they be forced to find new sources for funding? Only time will tell.

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