Publicly funded, privately run charter schools consume more than $900 million in state and local tax dollars. A comprehensive evaluation has been difficult.

This three-part series launches a multiyear project to create a database and publish authoritative stories so parents can make informed choices and the public can understand this form of government privatization. This project will be led by the Beacon Journal and the NewsOutlet, a student-journalism lab headquartered at Youngstown State University in association with the University of Akron and Cuyahoga Community College.

Here are the installments in this first series:

Part 1: Many charter schools lack transparency.

Part 2: Close ties between for-profit management companies and the boards raise questions about tax-free, nonprofit status.

Part 3: Public school districts use local funds to transport charter-school kids.