SB 89 (School Vouchers) Shot Down by Ohio Senate

State Senator Sandra Williams

As the Ranking member on the Ohio Senate Higher Education Committee, I would like to share with you information concerning Ohio’s Educational Choice (EdChoice) program. The Ohio Legislature has made great strides to fix the EdChoice Voucher issue that is impacting school districts across Ohio. Recently, the Ohio Senate voted to support SB120 which among other things puts a 60 day stay on our public schools paying for students to go to private and parochial schools. Senator Williams added an amendment to HB9, which serves as the current vehicle for
the EdChoice fix. The amendment would reduce the budget earmark of $23.5 million per fiscal year from Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) state aid to the prior earmark of $17.6 million annually. The $5.9 million dollar earmark reduction would allow CMSD to allocate more dollars towards operational costs.

Another amendment was added to provide $30 million to districts who paid out foundation funding that was originally sent to them and by law were required to redirect the funds to private and parochial schools.

The problem: Ohio implemented a voucher system in 2005. Until now, the impact was felt by mostly urban districts: nearly 500 schools. As of 12:01am on February 1,2020, outer ring suburbs, more rural districts and a few more urban schools—all totaling roughly 700 schools—would have had to pay private and parochial schools. The bill today saves those 700 schools, but fails to save districts such as Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and Garfield Heights which are already impacted. The city of Cleveland Schools have also sent over $13 million to private and parochial schools through the Cleveland Scholarship Program. Multiple districts have seen a loss in funding as a result of the EdChoice Scholarship program. These districts include: Cleveland Heights, which roughly lost $7 million, Garfield Heights which lost over $1 million and Shaker Heights which lost nearly $33,000 in funding. The fix to this problem is significantly underway. See the chart below for a list of
millions sent by Senate District 21 schools.

 

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