Ohio House lawmakers unveiled a plan this week that would make changes to the state’s school voucher system.
In the House’s proposal, the current EdChoice voucher program would be replaced with the Buckeye Opportunity Scholarship (BOS). This new program would be based on family income rather than the “failing schools model,” which allows students at underperforming schools to be eligible for a voucher to attend a private school.
In the BOS program, students from families that up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line would qualify for the full scholarship. This number comes to an income of $65,000 for a family of four.
Right now, the EdChoice program voucher program only went up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Students that are currently enrolled in the EdChoice program would continue to receive scholarships.
“This is the first step on the road to meaningful education reform that works for all Ohio students, regardless of their ZIP Code or circumstances,” said Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford). “The Buckeye Opportunity Scholarship plan will put low-income students at the front of the line.”
This plan would take effect in the 2020-2021 academic year.
The Republican-controlled Ohio legislature sought to make changes to the voucher program as it saw the number of EdChoice program qualified schools expected to go from 517 schools this year to 1,227 schools next year.
“What this entire process has really underscored is the need to overhaul our school accountability system,” said Primary and Secondary Education Committee Chairman Don Jones (R-Freeport).
Another proposal the Ohio House wants to make to the school voucher program is how the scholarships are funded. Presently, the EdChoice scholarships are paid by decreasing local school aid; however, BOS would finance scholarships directly from the state, according to the House GOP press release.
The scholarship amounts would remain the same in the BOS program as the EdChoice program: $4,650 for K-8 students and $6,000 for high school students.
Gov. Mike DeWine has yet to weigh in on the House proposal. Earlier this week he said that he wants a voucher program that helps students from poor families and doesn’t disturb public school funding, the Associated Press reported.
Last week, the Senate passed legislation that would have kept the EdChoice program, but cut the schools eligible for this program down from 1,227 to 425, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]