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Education

New Amendment Would Freeze EdChoice Eligible Schools List, Expand Income Based Vouchers

empty chairs and desk
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

State lawmakers are expected to vote on a compromise that could stop a huge increase in the number of Ohio public school buildings where students will be eligible for private school vouchers starting this weekend.

The new amendment would freeze the EdChoice eligibility list, which stands at 517 buildings but would balloon to more than 1,200 without the change. State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) says schools that have met academic requirements can be removed, but no new schools will be added. He says it’s a compromise with Republican leaders but he is hoping for bipartisan support.

“There may be some suggestions that people will make that will allow them to vote for it. So it’s still a fluid process, but I would hope that we will continue to have discussions.”

Some EdChoice families have said they’re considering legal action.

If no changes are made, 70% of Ohio's school districts will have a building where students will qualify for EdChoice vouchers. Dolan said the the state can't send a message that so many buildings are considered "failing".

“I think there will be families involved who will feel that fundamentally this is not fair to them based on what they thought was going to happen. But a fix needed to be done.”

School groups say more than a hundred buildings will still be on the list though they’ve seen improvement. The amendment also further expands income based vouchers to families making up to 300% of the federal poverty level – over $77,000 a year for a family of four. Those vouchers are paid for by the state, not by school districts.