Of Warren County’s seven school districts, 13 schools in six of the districts will be eligible for EdChoice funding.
Matt Miller, superintendent for Lakota Schools, Butler County’s largest district, said the new plan overly benefits private schools at the expense of public school systems.
Miller said that “the private schools benefiting from this program are not held to the same accountability measures as our public schools, making this whole fiasco seem like nothing more than a money grab by our state legislators.”
Talawanda Schools Superintendent Ed Theroux echoed those complaints, saying that “the EdChoice voucher system is ill conceived, poorly developed and is an attack against public education.”
Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith also criticizes the changes, calling them “an attack on public education.”
Individual schools are placed on the EdChoice eligibility list if they fail to meet any of six performance markers tied to the state report card for schools.
But some state legislative leaders say the criteria, and the report card that underpins them, may be the problem.
“You have high-performing schools that are getting dinged on EdChoice for low (student growth) scores because they can’t go any higher,” said Ohio Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner. “Solon, the top-scoring school district in the state, has a school that’s eligible for EdChoice. That’s crazy.”
The number of individual schools where students are eligible to leave via voucher rose from 255 to 487 statewide this year, and will skyrocket to 1,233 next fall – more than one-third of all Ohio public schools.
The number of districts with at least one affected school rose from 32 to 137 this year, and will soar to 426 of Ohio’s 610 districts next year.
Miller said “the fact that all seven Lakota schools on this year’s EdChoice voucher list - in addition to other high-performing districts in our area and across the state - have overall passing grades confirms the flawed system our state is using to measure the success of Ohio public schools.”
“Last year, the financial impact on Lakota was minimal, as compared to many of our neighboring districts. That’s all thanks to the unwavering support of our parents who remained committed to Lakota,” said Miller.
“Next year’s impact is yet to be seen, but either way, we stand in support of public education and the 1,233 Ohio schools being impacted by this absurdity,” he said.
Smith said “unless something changes, the EdChoice will have a devastating impact on our school district.”
“Because of the EdChoice scholarship program, our district is projected to lose $3.3 million dollars for the 2020-2021 school year. Over the course of the next four years, this EdChoice program will result in the district losing $14.5 million dollars in funding,” said Smith.
He added seven of Fairfield’s schools next school year will be on the EdChoice designated school list.
“Of the seven schools on the list, only one of them has an overall grade lower than a ‘C.’ These seven schools are (now) being classified as ‘underperforming’ based on report card results,” he said.
Tracey Carson, spokeswoman for Mason Schools, Warren County’s largest district, said that “the Mason Early Childhood Center is on the list - which is strange since it educates students in grades Pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade who do not even take state tests.”
“We deeply believe in the high-quality education we provide our youngest learners, and are disturbed by the state’s arbitrary methodology for defining a school as “underperforming,” said Carson.
“Ohio’s experiment with ‘school choice’ now drains resources from high-performing public schools and diverts scarce education funding to private schools - regardless of how much a family makes, or the quality of the school their child may attend,” she said.
Under the state’s newly expanded “EdChoice” scholarship program more Butler and Warren county schools will be designated as “underperforming” next school year, which allows school parents to use financial vouchers to pay for sending their children from those schools to area private schools.
According to the Ohio Department of Education those schools are:
Edgewood Middle School
Fairfield Middle School
Fairfield Central Elementary
Fairfield Compass Elementary
Fairfield East Elementary
Fairfield Fairfield High School
Fairfield North Elementary
Fairfield West Elementary School
Hamilton Bridgeport Elementary
Hamilton Fairwood Elementary
Hamilton High School
Hamilton Highland Elementary
Hamilton Miami School
Hamilton Ridgeway Elementary
Lakota Adena Elementary
Lakota Endeavor Elementary
Lakota Hopewell Junior School
Lakota Ridge Junior School
Lakota Liberty Junior School
Lakota Shawnee Early Childhood School
Lakota VanGorden Elementary
Lakota Woodland Elementary
Middletown Amanda Elementary
Middletown Central Academy Nongraded Elementary
Middletown Creekview Elementary
Middletown Highview 6th Grade Center
Middletown Mayfield Elementary
Middletown Middletown High School
Middletown Middle School
Middletown Miller Ridge Elementary
Middletown Rosa Parks Elementary
Middletown Wildwood Elementary
New Miami High School
New Miami Elementary
Ross Elda Elementary
Talawanda Bogan Elementary
Carlisle Bobby F. Grigsby Intermediate School
Franklin Anthony Wayne Elementary
Franklin Junior High School
Franklin George H Gerke Elementary
Franklin Pennyroyal Elementary
Franklin William C Schenck Elementary
Kings Local Columbia Intermediate
Kings Mills Elementary
Lebanon Donovan Elementary
Lebanon High School
Lebanon Junior High
Little Miami SalemTownship Elementary
Mason Early Childhood Center Elementary