situation remains unresolved in Ohio
By La Prensa Staff
Latino parents and students may be left in a lurch as the debate
over what to do with the school voucher system remains
unresolved and state lawmakers went home for a recess that will
last until after the March primary. That would leave just a week
to do something before an April 1, 2020 window that opens for
families to file voucher applications for next academic year.
The EdChoice voucher application window was supposed to
start Feb. 1, 2020 but legislators granted a delay hoping a
conference committee from both houses of the Ohio General
Assembly could craft a compromise. The lack of a deal continues
to cause uncertainty for parents and school officials, all
looking at their budgets to figure out what their expenses look
like for next year.
Meantime, the raging debate about other education issues like
state report cards and school funding will get some attention in
the coming weeks at local town halls scheduled in Bowling Green
State Representative Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) will host a
town hall forum Monday, March 2,
6-8 p.m., at the Conn Weisenberger American Legion Post #587,
2020 W. Alexis Rd., featuring administrators from Toledo
Public Schools and Washington Local Schools, among
A bipartisan town hall was held Monday, Feb. 24, at Bowling
Green High School, featuring State Representative Haraz
Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) and State Representative John
Patterson (D-Jefferson), the architect of a school funding
plan under consideration now as House Bill 305.
State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) served on a
conference committee trying to work out a compromise on school
vouchers, but many state lawmakers are fixating on a solution to
state report cards—which is causing much of the current rancor
over an expansion of school vouchers.
“If we are going to make the decision to have vouchers, it’s
going to have to be income-based. That’s my conclusion,” Sen.
Fedor told the Columbus Dispatch. “If we wait, everyone
is going to solidify even more into their positions. There has
to be some type of movement forward.”
The lack of action comes after state legislators heard more than
25 hours of public comments last week from parents, teachers,
and superintendents. Locally, St. John’s Jesuit High School
even chartered a bus to send school voucher proponents to
Columbus to testify in favor of EdChoice.
Many see the school voucher problem as an unintended consequence
of the state report card debacle—and prefer to fix one, then the
other. A bill passed in the Ohio Senate would freeze school
vouchers for three years, buying time to revamp state education
report cards and possibly find a better way to accomplish school
funding. However, the Ohio House Speaker wanted other
fundamental changes to that school voucher legislation and no
compromise could be reached.
The House speaker wants to eliminate EdChoice
scholarships for future students and create one, income-based
system that prioritizes the state’s poorest families and provide
state funding rather than deduct from state aid given to each
school district. That goes along with the original intent of
school vouchers—to give low-income students an opportunity to
leave poor-performing schools for a shot at a better education
Opponents in the Ohio Senate contend a $121 million state
appropriation for those income-based vouchers would be long gone
before every student currently on EdChoice received a
Senate Republicans want a three-year freeze that keeps
performance-based school vouchers, but would shrink the list of
voucher-eligible schools. A change in how those schools were
determined based on state report cards caused an explosion in
the number of affected schools, causing concern that
high-performing suburban and rural school districts would lose
both student population and vital funding when they left for
parochial or private schools.
Some school districts are considering placing a local levy on
the ballot later this year, asking voters and taxpayers to
replace those funds lost to school vouchers. The delay in
implementation and lack of a permanent solution creates
uncertainty in whether to pursue a local levy.