Local superintendents pushing for changes to state EDChoice voucher program

Local News

Some Trumbull County superintendents say the voucher system is having a negative impact on public schools

(WKBN) – Ohio has 1.8 million children in school who are a very important part of the state’s future. While parents want a range of choices for schools, districts want a system that doesn’t deduct their state aid.

Some leaders believe the vouchers could continue to have negative financial implications for public schools.

Trumbull County’s 20 public school superintendents stand united. They believe the EDChoice voucher program needs to change.

“It’s not about enrollment. It’s just about providing resources for the children that we have in a fair and appropriate fashion,” said Liberty Schools Superintendent Joseph Nohra.

School districts are upset the program criteria keeps expanding, now including schools and districts it was never intended to. The list could triple this year across the state.

The superintendents want vouchers to go to the students for which the system was created.

“Looking at students from fragile or challenging families, looking for students to give them educational opportunity. I think everyone will be in favor for that,” said Warren Schools Superintendent Steve Chiaro.

Warren has 400 students who have taken advantage of the voucher program to a cost of under $2 million.

Other districts have also lost money, but they’re fighting against people who want to keep the current system.

“Quite frankly, over the last several years, folks have come in here that are big school choice proponents and they have actually lobbied to make the tests even harder and the requirements and standards even harder on public schools because that’s a windfall for them because it causes more kids to be in their system,” said Rep. Larry Householder.

The change could come from Columbus.

The House has passed a bill that replaces school vouchers based on state report cards, with a program based on family income.

“The income-based seems to be the better way to go. What the House brought us is something we can support,” said Sen. Sean O’Brien.

Legislators created Buckeye Opportunity Scholarships that would still allow students to move to a private school. They would also preserve moving tax dollars out of the district where residents pay them.

“So, no longer would they take money from public education for the particular school districts. It will come from the state,” said Rep. Mike O’Brien.

The Senate is ready to consider the House bill, which passed by a vote of 88 to 7 last week.

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