JEROMESVILLE—(February 24, 2020) Hillsdale Local Schools’ Board of Education approved a resolution 5-0 at its last meeting, opposing Ohio’s Educational Choice (EdChoice) Scholarship. They are joining voices with public schools and their boards across the state seeking the repeal of the program.
Enacted by the Ohio General Assembly in 2006 and outlined in the Ohio Revised Code 3310, a recent expansion of the program has prompted Ohio’s districts, including Hillsdale, to speak out against the vouchers that pay for private and religious school tuition using taxpayer dollars from local tax levies.
EdChoice provides students from designated public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools. The criteria used to identify a school as underachieving is based on individual components of the state report card, not the overall grade.
Though Hillsdale currently does not have a school that is eligible for the program, the expansion will effect districts who have received overall grades of A, B or C on state report cards. On its current state-issued report card, the Hillsdale district received a B, with its middle school receiving special recognition from the state with a Momentum Award and “Overall A” Award.
With the expansion, 70 percent of the state’s districts will have at least one voucher-eligible school beginning April 1, according to an email distributed by representatives of OSBA and BASA to Ohio’s public school superintendents and school board members.
Under the changed law, students who have never attended a school in the district but still live within the attendance zone would be eligible for a voucher if a school is designated.
The vouchers provide $4,650 for K-eighth grade students and $6,000 for students in grades nine-12.
Regardless of whether the building improves and comes off the eligible list, students can keep the voucher throughout their academic career, costing local taxpayers nearly $66,000 per pupil to fund a 13-year private education.
In addition, siblings of a student who attends an eligible building are also permitted to receive vouchers whether they attend an eligible building or not.
Though the expansion increases the eligible grade levels from K-five to K-12, private and parochial schools accepting students with public tax vouchers can still exercise their selective admission policies.
Additionally, private and parochial schools are not mandated by the state to administer the voucher-identifying state-standardized test required of public schools. Thus, the actual performance of those schools is unknown.
The board-approved resolution “opposes and respectfully requests the repeal of the ill-conceived EdChoice voucher program of the State of Ohio,” and “opposes any funding programs, vouchers or otherwise, that have the effect of diverting public tax dollars from public schools to private/parochial schools.”
The board approved and directed the district’s treasurer to forward copies to the Ohio General Assembly, the superintendent of public instruction and Gov. Mike DeWine.
The district encourages residents to voice their support of Senate Bill 89, which would end the current EdChoice Voucher Program replacing it with one that is income based, by contacting Sen. Larry Obhof at 614-466-7505 or by email at email@example.com.