What is a private school?
Private schools, also known as chartered non-public schools, are only second in number to Ohio’s public schools throughout the state. Approximately 10% of school-aged students in Ohio attend one of Ohio’s nearly 800 private schools.
Private schools can be religious or non-religious, with the majority of private schools being religious. The first schools in Ohio were private religious schools.
What will my child’s educational experience be like?
You can expect a small- to medium-sized school with unique class options and sizing, depending on the school. Traditionally, students at private schools adhere to a dress code and/or wear uniforms to school. This certainly contributes to an equal footing for all students both within their peer group as well as across grade levels (i.e. bullying and intimidation are mitigated). In addition, private schools also focus on the moral formation of students, many focusing on respect for each other continuing to create a warm and loving school community.
You can expect to be part of your school’s community. Many private schools require parents to sign a parent contract that ensures parents are part of their child’s upbringing and schooling. Your contribution to the school community will enhance your child’s learning experience. Choosing a school in your community or a nearby community will allow you to fully participate in the school culture and in the community that private schools are known for creating and supporting.
Although each school’s culture is a reflection of their community of parents and families, most schools offer a warm and inviting atmosphere for students. Some private schools focus on tradition, structure, and academic excellence, while others focus on a God-centered learning experience. Almost all schools are a combination of those. Visiting a school to understand their unique school culture is an imperative part of choosing a school for your child.
Private school students take assessments in order to advance students academically, much like students in other schools. Private schools are allowed to provide alternative assessments to the state required assessments. These assessments more closely align with the school’s curriculum or provide better information for teachers to assist their students.
Private school high school students can access advanced coursework including Honors, IB, and Advanced Placement and can participate in the state’s College Credit Plus program, which allows students to access college-level coursework paid for by the state.
Private high schools boast high rates of graduation, college acceptance, scholarships and financial aid.
Private school students also have the opportunity to participate in OHSAA and school-sponsored sports programs. At many private schools, there is more access for students to participate in “rec” level sports, which continues to build up the local community. Many of Ohio’s private high schools are known for their high-performing athletics programs. Student athletes can excel in higher division sports due to smaller high school size, many garnering state championships in Division III and IV.
What are the financial costs & time commitments required for the private school option?
The vast majority of costs associated with attending a private school reside with the family. Private tuition is paid by the parent, which can be a few thousand dollars and up for K-8 and higher in high school for the school year. Schools generally offer opportunities for financial aid, and religious schools generally offer a discount if the family is also a member of an affiliated church or synagogue.
To assist parents with the cost of private school tuition, the state of Ohio offers five state-sponsored scholarships (sometimes called vouchers) that assist parents in paying for private school tuition.
The five scholarship programs are:
- Cleveland Tutoring Scholarship Program
- Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship (for students on an IEP/ISP)
- Autism Scholarship (for students with an autism spectrum disorder or on an IEP/ISP)
- EdChoice (low-performing public schools model)
- EdChoice Expansion (income-based model)
These scholarships range from $4,650 (k-8) to $6,000 (9-12) based on income or where you live, and up to $27,000 for Jon Peterson and Autism special needs scholarships. Each program has separate deadlines to apply and criteria for acceptance.
Generally, Ohio’s private schools start classes in August and finish in late May or early June. Each school creates its own calendar but abides by Ohio’s minimum hours of school each year. In many areas, private school hours are longer than their peers in a public school.
Private school students typically attend school five days a week. Contrary to public school reopening announcements, at this time, most private schools in Ohio plan to be in-person, five days a week, to start school this fall.
Not all students attending a private school are provided transportation to and from the private school. Public school districts are the stewards of transportation funds and the buses to transport students safely to and from school.
As the parent of a private school student, your local public school is responsible for transporting your student(s). Increasingly, public school districts are being more restrictive on the transportation of private school students.
If a public district determines they cannot transport your student(s), you will receive up to $250 per student (payment in lieu of transportation) and you will have to ensure they get to school each day on your own. Many private schools have before- and aftercare for students (for a fee), thus alleviating a need for transportation altogether.
What are the next steps to enroll my child in a private school?
Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about where they send their child to school.
Identify private schools in your area by driving by and inquiring or through an online search for “private schools.” Most private schools have enrollment periods during the school year.
Due to COVID-19, many schools are more flexible on the enrollment process and may accept new students throughout the year. Each school has its own policies for enrollment.
Check here to see if you are eligible for Ohio’s state scholarship programs.