LIMA — Several area school superintendents gathered at the Allen County Educational Service Center Wednesday to talk about their opposition to EdChoice, the voucher program that allows parents to place students in a private school. Along with that, the funding that would have gone to the public school would go to the private school.
This is the second news conference the superintendents have held.
The Ohio legislature is considering a compromise that would be less detrimental to public schools.
Three superintendents — Keith Horner from Apollo Career Center, Jill Ackerman from Lima schools and James Kanable from Shawnee schools — spoke at the news conference about the possible harm expansion of EdChoice would do to the public schools.
“This is just an issue where we feel very strongly and passionately that public dollars that go to private schools should be accompanied with all the rules, regulations and laws that go with those public dollars. It’s very, very simple from that particular standpoint,” said Horner.
Ackerman says the way the vouchers are funded is unfair.
“Ohio today uses the deduct method to fund performance-based EdChoice vouchers, which is fundamentally flawed. So by inappropriately deducting aid from local school districts, it is diverting locally voted tax dollars to pay for vouchers,” said Ackerman.
Ackerman points to some examples of how the policy is hurting Lima schools.
“One private high school has 125 of our students currently on vouchers. Fifty one of those students have never been enrolled in a public school system, and 30 have done what we call short enrollment, which is to hop over for enrollment within a short window of time around 45 days to make themselves eligible for a voucher. Another private high school currently has 13 students who happen to reside within our school district. Ten of those 13 have never been students in the Lima City Schools. Taxpayer dollars that were voted in for our public school system has funded their private education for years,” said Ackerman.
Ackerman favors a proposal that came from the Ohio House where the state would fund the vouchers.
“If the state is going to issue vouchers, the state should pay for them and not use some sort of shell game to prop them up with locally voted property tax dollars,” said Ackerman.
Kanable testified this week in Columbus before the joint committee looking at House Bill 9 and Senate Bill 89.
“I stand before you today urging anyone, whether it be a public citizen, a board member, treasurer, superintendent, to please take the time if possible and register and be part of those testimonials that are currently being heard by this joint committee,” said Kanable.
Kanable questioned the constitutionality of the EdChoice program.
“One of these guidelines (in the Constitution) became known as the establishment clause. This is the statement where there will be a separation of church and state. This included the key element of taxation. The fundamental element of our Constitution is today what brings great concern to this argument for me and many of my colleagues. The use of tax dollars raised by public school districts should not be a financial foundation to run a religious base set of schools in our state — that goes directly against our founding fathers’ wishes,” Kanable added.
Kanable urges people to contact their legislators and ask them to keep with the basis of Senate Bill 89, which the superintendents favor.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.