EdChoice Voucher Impact

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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

EdChoice Voucher Impact

House Bill 197

On March 25, 2020, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 197, which in addition to relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreak, contains new laws surrounding the EdChoice voucher program in response to the April 1 deadline. For the CH-UH City School District, these changes do far more harm than good.

”We respect the legislature’s need to act quickly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, and we are thankful that our lawmakers are working to provide relief for Ohioans. However, the voucher-related legislation in HB 197 continues the devastating expansion of EdChoice that occurred this summer in the biennial budget,” said CH-UH Board of Education President Jodi Sourini.
 

What Is EdChoice?

The Ohio EdChoice Scholarship Program allows students living in the boundaries of designated schools to receive vouchers to attend private schools. It started as a way to provide education options for students whose local schools were considered "failing" by the Ohio State Report Card grading system.

However, the program has expanded to the point of unsustainability for CH-UH City Schools. The  of EdChoice students within the CH-UH City School District boundaries have never attended our public schools. This means that they were never factored into our budget to begin with. Furthermore, we lose $6,000 per new high school student and $4,650 per new elementary school student using EdChoice due to a freeze in state funding for the next two years. This has amounted to an approximate loss of $7.2 million this fiscal year.
 
“Cleveland Heights isn’t losing any students. They are just losing money.” -Economist and school finance consultant Howard Fleeter,
 
It's also wrong to call many of the buildings on the EdChoice list "underperforming." Ohio currently has buildings that are considered high performing (overall grade of A, B or C) on the list of buildings whose students qualify for EdChoice vouchers due to inconsistencies in the report card grading system.1
 
Overnight Changes
When the Ohio General Assembly passed its biennial budget in July 2019, it froze receipts at 2018-2019 levels. This means that for every new voucher used, none of the cost would be offset by state aid. They also quietly and suddenly removed the provision that required high school students to attend a public school prior to using the voucher. Unable to prepare financially for the change, the District was forced the following month to negotiate one-year contracts with the teachers union, as opposed to multi-year contracts.

Source: 
1Ohio School Boards Association
 
 
 
 
 
 

A Call to Action

Our school board has been working with legislators and lobbyists in Columbus to initiate change, but it is crucial that lawmakers and the governor’s office hear from you today. One simple, short term solution we encourage you to ask: 

Stop deducting voucher payments from school district funds. Instead fund new vouchers from state funds directly.

Click for a list of further points that can be used to explain how EdChoice vouchers are affecting CH-UH and other Ohio districts.
 
EdChoice is a complex topic that’s subject to much debate, but what it comes down to is this: We need your voice in finding a fair solution that is best for students. Please take a few moments to contact the following elected officials:

Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) Chair, Senate Education Committee

(614) 466-4538 |


Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) Vice Chair, Senate Education Committee

(614) 466-7584 |

 

Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) Ranking Minority Member, Senate Education Committee

(614) 466-5204 |

 

Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights)

(614) 466-4583 |

 

Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) 

(614) 466-4857 |

 

Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights)

Phone (614) 644-5079 |

 

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder

Phone (614) 466-2500 |

 

Governor Mike DeWine

(614) 644-4357 |
 

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