Community (Charter) & STEM Schools

Ohio’s Community (Charter) & STEM schools offer additional choices for families seeking a non-traditional, K-12 public educational setting for their children. Tuition free for Ohio students, these learning institutions are public, non-profit, non-religious schools that receive state and federal funds but are independent of traditional, public school districts.

No permission is required from the district in which the student resides. The decision to enroll in a community school is made by families.  

Each community school is authorized or ‘chartered’ by a sponsoring entity. Community school sponsors provide oversight and technical assistance to their schools, ensuring each school’s compliance with state law and administrative rules. Per Ohio law, community school sponsors must be one of the following organizations:

  • Educationally-oriented 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization;
  • School district;
  • Educational service center; 
  • Ohio public university; or
  • Ohio Department of Education, Office of School Sponsorship

Oversight and evaluation of community school sponsors is the responsibility of the Ohio Department of Education.

Sponsors enter into a contract with the governing authority of an individual community school. The sponsor-school contract details the school’s education plan and performance accountability. 

Community schools in Ohio are subject to many of the same requirements as traditional public school districts. Community schools are subject to annual financial audits by the Ohio Auditor of State, public records and open meetings state laws, receive school report cards and administration of state achievement tests. Unlike schools operated by districts, community schools that fail to make sufficient progress improving student achievement are subject to closure.

Community schools often have a specific mission or education plan that is tailored to a specific group of students. Community schools include schools specializing in dropout/credit recovery, serving students with special needs, students with limited proficiency in English, STEM curriculum and arts-integrated instruction.  

Families interested in finding a community school can find a searchable school directory here.


Community School Directory

Online Community Schools

Community Schools Annual Report (Ohio Department of Education)

Community School General Information (Ohio Department of Education)

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