Mar. 27, 2020 -- The Superintendent, Treasurer and Board of Education President sent a letter today to Ohio lawmakers expressing their serious concerns with the new EdChoice laws. The District encourages parents, staff and community members to write to lawmakers as well, using this letter as a template.
March 27, 2020
Dear Ohio Legislators,
We respect and appreciate your need to act quickly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, and we are thankful for the flexibility that HB 197 provides to local school districts as we navigate the remainder of the school year. However, the EdChoice-related legislation in HB 197 continues the devastating expansion of this voucher program, and is expected to add at least $1 million to our EdChoice-related losses next fiscal year.
In the expansion that occurred over the summer, our district lost $2 million overnight when a provision was changed that required a high school student must have attended a public school first to be eligible for a voucher. This new extension of voucher eligibility to siblings will undoubtedly increase the number of vouchers we disperse, and therefore, our losses.
Even freezing the number of schools on the EdChoice eligibility list does virtually nothing to help our district. We lost nearly $7.2 million this fiscal year alone due to EdChoice and the state budget freeze, and we have seen no reimbursement from the state for this loss. We had already factored an estimated $7.5 million loss into our five-year forecast for next fiscal year; we expect that number to hit at least $8.5 million because of this new law. Proportionally, CH-UH is the hardest-hit district in Ohio in terms of money lost to EdChoice. Ironically, we are disproportionately impacted because our diverse and inclusive community has always offered a wide array of school choice.
Our data shows that 94% of the students currently using a voucher in our school district have never attended CH-UH schools. Our enrollment has remained steady. This confirms to us that our district is not losing students; we are losing money.
As we’ve been requesting for months now, we are asking the state to directly fund EdChoice scholarships until they expire, instead of deducting them from our district budget. The inevitable cuts we now face will be painful and will chip away at our strategic plan goals. These goals all surround increasing our student performance and we have been making great strides over the last five years.
This is simply unsustainable for us. Our district’s budget used to support our 10 school buildings. Due to EdChoice, now our budget is stretched to support our 10 schools AND an additional 33 private and community schools that accept EdChoice. Our district and our community cannot afford this.
Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.
Scott Gainer, CPA
Board of Education President
Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) Chair, Senate Education Committee
Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) Vice Chair, Senate Education Committee
(614) 466-7584 | Email Senator Huffman
Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) Ranking Minority Member, Senate Education Committee
(614) 466-5204 | Email Senator Fedor
Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) Senate President
Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) House Speaker
Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) House Minority Leader
Rep. Don Jones (R-Glenford) Chair, Conference Committee on HB 9
Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) Conference Committee on HB 9
(614) 466-2158 | Email [email protected]
Rep. Phil Robinson, Jr. (D-Solon) Conference Committee on HB 9
Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights)
Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland)
Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights)
Governor Mike DeWine
Dan McCarthy, Director of Legislative Affairs to the Governor of Ohio[email protected]Governor.Ohio.Gov