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Policy Matters Ohio

Public Good vs. Private Profit: Imagine Schools, Inc. in Ohio

May 12, 2010

Public Good vs. Private Profit: Imagine Schools, Inc. in Ohio

May 12, 2010

Imagine Schools, Inc., is the nation’s largest for-profit charter school management company, with 71 schools nationwide and 11 in Ohio. 

This report found that Imagine has a poor record of performance in Ohio and a business model that includes elaborate school real estate transactions, high management and operations fees, overlapping business relationships, low spending on classroom instruction, and tight control of school finances and board relationships. These problems have led to Academic Emergency ratings for five of the company's six rated Ohio schools for the 2008-09 school year (the sixth was in Academic Watch). Because of the management company’s poor academic record in Ohio, it was barred from opening new schools for the 2010-11 school year. Board members have resigned in frustration with Imagine practices, facility costs dramatically exceed recommended guidelines from charter experts, and teacher salaries are below those of other charters. 

Ohio charters are granted only to non-profit organizations, but fully a third of the state’s more than 300 non-profit, tax-payer funded charter schools are run by for-profit management companies, many of them out-of-state operators like Imagine Schools, Inc. Our report highlights the need to eliminate for-profit companies from the education picture in Ohio. Read it and learn more.

Press Release

Executive Summary

Full Report 


Appendix: Comparison of Imagine schools with closest district schools

Click here for Charter School documents

Testimony of Piet van Lier on for-profit charter school operators

Fordham Institute responds to Policy Matters report

Imagine CEO's 2008 memo to company managers


Blueprint for charter oversight                                                                                                                                      Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (editorial), May 23, 2010

Report details power over charter schools                                                                              Akron Beacon Journal, May 19, 2010

Orphanage's oversight of schools blasted                                                                           Cincinnati Enquirer, May 17, 2010

Rubber stamps at the company store                                                                                 Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 12, 2010



2010Education & TrainingK-12 EducationPiet van Lier

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