Changes to the law for the EdChoice voucher program in this year’s state budget resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of school buildings whose students are eligible for the state-funded scholarship to attend participating private schools. State Board of Education President Laura Kohler plans to push lawmakers to “revisit” the issue. One Legislator already agreed it is a concern – Republican Senate Education Chair Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering).
According to Gongwer, President Kohler, while attending last week’s Ohio School Boards Association conference, said more attendees spoke to her about the EdChoice issue than any other.
“We are dedicated to doing what we can to take care of some of these unintended consequences [of school choice expansion],” she told the publication. “This needs to get fixed, and I will do what I can to fix it via legislation. It’s not going to be easy … but first we need to find out what’s driving this.”
Citizens for Community Values did not see the expansion as a problem when House Bill 166 passed. President Aaron Baer expressed enthusiastic support for the expansion of school choice programs.
“The budget passed by the General Assembly includes the most significant expansion of the EdChoice program in a decade, along with a significant growth in support for charter schools. We all know that when it comes to education, one size doesn’t fit all. The Ohio General Assembly has moved to help parents find the best educational setting for their children,” he announced in a press release on July 17, 2019.
If the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) calculations are correct, a “significant expansion” is certainly accurate.
“David Glasner, superintendent of the Shaker Heights City School District, told the state board Thursday that students in 30 school districts were eligible for school performance-based EdChoice funding 18 months ago. Now, he said, 423 districts have at least one building where students qualify for the scholarships,” the statehouse news agency wrote.
ODE provided a video explanation of the EdChoice on their website. There are two EdChoice options, one for students in underperforming schools and one for specific grade level students who are at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
The Department’s application period for EdChoice students begins February 1 and ends April 30. “New EdChoice students must be admitted for fall enrollment at a participating chartered nonpublic school,” explained the ODE on their “EdChoice Scholarship Parent FAQs” page.
The Ohio Star confirmed there are 1,227 school buildings from the 609 traditional districts that are now considered schools from which eligible students may apply for the scholarships, unless the legislature changes the law at the request of the Senate Education Chair, State Board President or traditional district school officials.
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