EdChoice Scholarship Expansion — And its impact on the Lima City Schools
The EdChoice Scholarship Program provides up to 60,000 scholarships to students who attend schools deemed “underperforming” by the Ohio Department of Education. The “underperforming” designation comes as a result of the state Report Cards. Despite gains made on the state Report Card and success stories that we see every day in the classroom, The Lima City Schools is still considered a failing district by the state.
The scholarships must be used to attend a private/parochial school that meets certain requirements. All of the private schools in Lima qualify. These schools are not held accountable by the state for their academic successes or failures like public schools are.
The EdChoice program results in public taxpayer dollars being used to fund tuition for students at private schools. The voucher amount is $4,650 for students entering K-8 in 2020-21 and $6,000 for students entering grades 9-12.
While the Lima City Schools has lived under the voucher program for many years, the expansion of the program will have a devastating impact on our district.
Originally Ohio schools had to get failing grades on at least two specific report card measures before being added to the voucher list. The new system adds a school for a single D or F — even if the rest of its grades were As and it had an overall passing grade.
Statewide the expansion has dramatically increased the number of schools deemed failing and therefore being eligible for vouchers. Last year, there were 238 buildings. That will increase to more than 1,220 by the end of 2021.
By the end of 2021, 70 percent of the state’s public school districts will have at least one building where students qualify for private school vouchers paid for with funds from public schools.
Changes most impacting the Lima City Schools
The increase to the cap on the number of EdChoice vouchers available.
The practice that high school students no longer have to attend a public school district before receiving a voucher.
*Every student in the Lima City Schools can now apply for a voucher, including incoming kindergartners who have never attended our schools.
*Every student currently attending a private school can now apply for a voucher. These students never have to attend the Lima City Schools. They may have attended a private school their entire education careers and now can get voucher money to continue there.*Once a student receives a voucher, they can continue to receive one for the rest of their k-12 education regardless of the public school’s Report Card.
The financial impact
The Lima City Schools will lose nearly $150,000 additional dollars this school year.
The potential of this growing in future years is great.
Not all guaranteed a voucher
Private schools can continue to take only those students they want. Applying for a voucher does not mean you will get accepted into a private school. Private schools can pick and choose who they want. This again takes away the original intent of vouchers to provide families choice. It really is the private schools’ choice.
If lawmakers are going to make legislative changes to the voucher program, they must act and do so by Feb. 1, the first day when families can begin applying for vouchers for next school year.
We urge residents to contact your elected officials on this important issue.
Governor Mike DeWine – 614-644-4357
Senator Matt Huffman – 614-466-7584
Representative Bob Cupp – 614-466-9624