In a letter, state Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Cuyahoga County lawmakers today called on the governor and Statehouse leaders to restore funds and find a long-term solution for school districts that are set to lose millions of dollars in funding due to the expansion of the EdChoice voucher program under House Bill (HB) 166.
“We understand the benefit that EdChoice vouchers offer so many residents in Ohio. But we should all be concerned with the significant cost to the remaining children and families whom we also all represent. We ask that we can work together to find a solution to this problem,” wrote the lawmakers.
EdChoice is funded by transferring the cost of each voucher from the student’s home district to private education providers, which is often more than the per pupil amount for that district allocated in the state budget.
In Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District lost $7.36 million to voucher deductions in 2019, some $4.35 million of which was completely unfunded by the state and came out of local school funds.
“Schools are the foundation of our communities. They provide a safe space for our children to learn and grow. The changes to the funding systems has created a battle between public schools and private schools. This should not be a fight, rather an opportunity for Ohio to invest in our future,” said Rep. Boyd.
“While I attended private schools that my parents worked hard to pay for, both of my parents are former public school teachers, and my step daughter is a sophomore at our local public high school. This is how most Ohio families are, in fact. We all have some connection to our public schools. Every single one of us should be troubled and concerned with the inconceivable loss of funds the voucher expansion program created. An expansion that could not make it through the legislative process, because it was so damaging. In my district alone, in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, if not corrected it will mean In practice that could look like downsizing staff, less classroom resources, cuts to extracurricular programming, and more. Money is not just a number, it has real life consequences. That is why I am taking the lead in urging my colleagues to accept this meeting request and speak with stakeholders to find a solution.”
Area lawmakers fear that EdChoice expansion, coupled with a state school funding freeze under HB 166, would further decimate local school funding as early as next school year.
“The siphoning of foundation funds from public school districts underscores the need for comprehensive, equitable reform to the education system in our state. Too many slip through the cracks in our current, flawed school funding formula. Ohio students deserve an exceptional K-12 education that expands their opportunities and helps prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow,” added Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland).