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Published: Friday, 12/2/2005

12 laid off as charter school loses students

The largest operator of charter schools in Ohio has laid off almost 10 percent of its employees, including about 12 people at Life Skills Center of Toledo, a company official said yesterday.

Mark Thimmig, president and chief executive officer of White Hat Management, said the company needed to reduce staff in response to enrollment declines.

"We did not in any way release employees that are a vital and important part of our students' education," Mr. Thimmig said.

Life Skills Centers serve dropouts and older children.

Mr. Thimmig said that Life Skills Center of Toledo, which is on Adams Street near downtown, has 405 students. According to Ohio Department of Education data, the school had a 541-student average daily enrollment last school year.

Four teachers were among those laid off from the Toledo location.

The for-profit company operates charter schools in six states, including 31 in Ohio. Last year, White Hat received $109 million in public education dollars that followed students as they left public school districts for charter schools.

Although Life Skills Centers are public schools that receive public funding, the company maintains that it does not have to say how much it pays teachers and the support staff, how much money is being spent on the students, and how much money is being kept as profit.

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