Expansion of Voucher Program Could Cost Public Schools Millions

Dec 9, 2019

Ohio’s public schools could lose millions of dollars to private schools through an expansion of the state’s biggest voucher program. New rules on criteria for the EdChoice program have increased the number of school buildings considered "failing" by more than 400 percent.

Last year, 238 buildings were considered failing. That will be up to more than 1,220 by the end of 2021, when 70 percent of the state’s public school districts will have a building where students qualify for private school vouchers paid for with funds from public schools.

“This has ballooned into a list that really no one saw coming," said Will Schwartz, a lobbyist with the Ohio School Boards Association. He says that could add up to $65,000 per student from kindergarten through graduation. And he says districts could now also be forced to pay for vouchers for high school students at private schools who may never have attended public schools.

He’s hoping lawmakers will consider changes, such as measuring performance for three consecutive years or requiring high school students to attend a public school for a year before applying for a voucher.