Ohio Leaders Bash Bill to Boost Vouchers

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, October 17, 2011

Officials in many area school districts contend an Ohio House bill would further erode public- school finances.

Several school districts have passed resolutions opposing Ohio House Bill 136, which would expand the state voucher program.

The bill, sponsored by Lima Republican Matt Huffman, would create the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Saving Scholarship, granting scholarships, or vouchers, to attend nonpublic schools.

Unlike the existing EdChoice program, which allows a limited number of low-income students from poor performing districts to secure vouchers for a private school education, there’s no requirement in H.B. 136 regarding a home district’s academic performance.

Even students from districts designated excellent or excellent with distinction could request vouchers.

A family in Ohio with an annual income up to $95,000 could qualify.

“I believe it’s part of the attack on public education by the same party that holds all the power in Ohio right now,” said Roger Samuelson, president of the Champion school board.

The board of Trumbull County Career and Technical Center, of which Samuelson also is a member, passed a resolution last week opposing the bill.

He acknowledges that parents have the right to send their children to certain schools if they so choose, but he isn’t sure it’s appropriate for taxpayers to foot the bill.

The Youngstown school board also passed a resolution last week opposing HB 136.

Superintendent Connie Hathorn said it’s important to note that while students can request to attend nonpublic schools, those schools don’t have to accept them. That could affect special-education students in particular as smaller schools may not have the programs and personnel to address their needs, he said.

Public schools accept all children.

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