LIMA — Ohio Rep. Bob Cupp visited Lima Central Catholic High School Friday to learn about the first-hand benefits of a Catholic private education.
During his visit, Cupp (R-Lima) toured the school with Stephanie Williams, principal and CEO, Megan Scheid, of St. Charles Catholic School, Donna Judy, of St. Rose Catholic School, and Marta Truex, of St. Gerard Catholic School and spoke to students and staff.
Cupp’s visit comes amid discussion of changes to the School Choice Ohio program. He heard from families, students and staff who would be affected by changes to the program.
“EdChoice has been around for 10, 12, 15 years and it’s part of the fabric of our total educational funding. The question is should school districts be allowed for parents to choose a different school or is it better to do based on income,” Cupp said.
He said there has not been a resolution to school funding and said there is a difference of opinion between the majority of the House and the Senate. The question, he said, is whether it should be all income based or partly on income or whether the school is failing on the report card.
Cupp spoke about the importance of a Catholic education.
“I think it’s important for there to be choices in how their children are to be educated. The Catholic schools in this community are very strong and do a good job of educating children,” Cupp said. He said the biggest questions is how the education will be paid for.
Williams said the biggest difference between public and private schools is the value-added component that private schools can incorporate the values of Jesus into everyday curriculum.
“I believe very strongly in school choice and that a parent knows their child best — whether its a public education, home school or a private education,” Williams said. Williams said the high school has approximately 255 students grades 9 to 12.
The Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators and Ohio Association of School Business Officials reacted Friday to the overwhelming response from Ohio public school leaders who came to Columbus to voice their support for the Ohio House of Representatives’ plan to address the Educational Choice Scholarship Program.
Participating in some 50 hours of public testimony on Ohio’s failed private school voucher program, superintendents, treasurers and school board members rallied around a solution proposed by the House in Senate Bill 89.
OSBA, BASA and OASBO members who spoke during the EdChoice hearings also rejected the Senate’s answer to the EdChoice problems through its plan in House Bill 9. The Senate plan would reduce the 1,227 qualifying buildings to 420, effective for the next three years. That means the performance-based voucher program would continue to siphon money from public school districts. The plan also would increase the income eligibility threshold from the current 200% of the federal poverty level to 300%.
Williams visited the statehouse Thursday to testify on House Bill 9 with other educators. There are House and Senate bill options where there are committee hearings held to decide which side will be adopted.
“I was there as an opponent to House Bill 9 and advocated to keep the law as it currently stands. Right now for EdChoice there is a student performance indicator that allows the school districts that have been been deemed under performing to continue,” Williams said. She said she agrees that there is time needed to look at school funding issues, but trying trying to change the law before April 1 is rushed.
SB 89 would halt the performance-based voucher program and instead grant vouchers for private school tuition based solely on family income, giving priority to the poorest students. The income threshold for qualifying for an income-based voucher would increase from the current 200% of the federal poverty level to 250%.
“Our members are tired of the state’s practice of taking money from local school districts to pay for private school tuition, and their advocacy over the last two weeks made this clear,” said OSBA Director of Legislative Services Jennifer Hogue.
“Recent changes to EdChoice have dramatically increased the number of public school buildings whose students are eligible for an EdChoice voucher. Over 1,200 buildings have been projected for eligibility in the coming school year, up from 255 just two years ago.”
In a diocesan-wide effort to support parents as primary educators and support parents in having options for their children’s education, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas invites people of the Diocese of Toledo to contact their state representatives and senators expressing to them support for educational choice in Ohio.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.