School districts raise red flags over new Ohio voucher program

 Superintendents from NW Ohio school districts protest changes to Ohio's school voucher program.
Superintendents from NW Ohio school districts protest changes to Ohio's school voucher program. (WTVG)
Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 10:58 AM EST
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Major changes could be coming to Ohio's school voucher program, and public school administrators say it's going to stack the deck against them even more.

This new plan would take money away from public school districts for kids who've never stepped foot inside their buildings.

The ideas of education choice and the voucher system are not going away and no one really expects them to anytime soon. Public school administrators know that and expect that.

The problem they're seeing now is losing dollars for kids they've never worked with, kids they've never seen. It's a funding system they're already not pleased with, and they believe it's getting worse.

“We are not a failing school. I mean, anyone that knows a Whitmer graduate knows that we are not failing here,” said Washington Local Superintendent Dr. Kadee Anstadt.

Dr. Anstadt is passionate about her district and passionate about fighting this plan. New changes coming to funding Ohio schools would mean far more kids would be eligible for private school vouchers, even ones that have never attended the public school.

"To call us failing and then start to deduct money that honestly you're not fully funding us, and now you're going to deduct money for students that have never crossed our threshold because a parent made a decision to educate them in the private school system, that's not right,” said Dr. Anstadt.

In a press release sent Friday, Kevin Bacon, the president and CEO or School Choice Ohio, responded to the issues raised by school administrators across the state.

"We believe that a parent, not an institution, knows what's best for Ohio's children. We will continue to fight for these students who are predominantly low income, disabled, minority, or struggle in a traditional school setting," he said in the statement.

Districts like Washington Local are capped on their funding. They're not even getting the full amount they should be receiving.

"This is different than school choice. This is giving private schools the ability to choose students and have someone else, a local tax payer, pay for that," said Dr. Anstadt.

New tweaks in the state report card recently put over 1,000 schools statewide into the failing category, meaning those kids are voucher eligible. Public schools wonder what's next.

"When you have 1,200 schools from around the state that you are calling failing, something is wrong with your formula. Something is wrong with the way you're judging," said Dr. Anstadt.

Bacon responded in the press release, saying, "A school that has a 'B' or 'C' grade may have significant achievement gaps or lack of progress. School choice is yet another tool to give parents more options. Children have unique educational needs. One size does not fit all."

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