Ohio bill aims to eliminate Youngstown Schools’ takeover, change state voucher program

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The new voucher program would be based strictly on a student's income -- not a school's performance

COLUMBUS (WKBN) – There was another attempt in Columbus Wednesday to try to eliminate state takeovers of school districts, like the Academic Distress Commission overseeing Youngstown City Schools.

The Ohio House passed an education bill with an amendment attached that would eliminate all Academic Distress Commissions in the state. It would prohibit new ones from being created until 2024.

State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan voted for the bill. She said it’s time to free the districts from this failed experiment and give local communities control again.

Another amendment to the education bill would change what is now called the EdChoice program to the Buckeye Opportunity Scholarship program.

The new program would be income-based. School vouchers would be given based on the financial need of the student.

Vouchers based on a school’s performance would be gone.

Students currently in the performance-based voucher program would be grandfathered in.

The bill passed the House and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

“We make ourselves look bad and it’s all over the dollar. You know, who’s gonna get that dollar? Well, we’re gonna take that off the table,” said Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Larry Householder. “We’re gonna go to an income-based with this bill. We’re gonna take care of the very poorest children in this state. They’re gonna have a scholarship opportunity and, frankly, it’s gonna make public schools better and it’s gonna make voucher schools stronger in the end.”

Superintendents with two Youngstown-area school districts have been vocal about changing the EdChoice program.

Tim Saxton in Boardman said with the way it’s designed now, it could cost Boardman up to $900,000 next year.

Liberty Schools’ Joe Nohra said his district could end up in fiscal emergency.

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