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House Measure Makes Sweeping Changes To Ohio School Voucher Program

Students in the classroom
Columbus Neighborhoods

The Ohio House passed a measure to phase-out the voucher program known as EdChoice, replacing it with school vouchers based on family income.

The move comes after lawmakers hit a stalemate and had to approve a freeze to the program's application period.

The House measure moves school building performance-based EdChoice vouchers into income-based Buckeye Opportunity Scholarships. That would make students from families making up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines eligible for tuition payments to private schools.

Republican House Speaker Larry Householder says this could lead to fixing what he sees are other problems with the state's education system.

"It's the right way to go. It's the right thing to do. It's bold. But sometimes you just gotta have guts," Householder says.

Students who are already receiving EdChoice vouchers at low-performing schools will continue to get them, along with their school-aged siblings.

It's now up to the Senate to hold a vote on the changes.

The EdChoice program would have put 1,227 schools on the low-performing list for the 2020-2021 school year – that would be twice as much as the current list of 517.

That increase was set to take place when the application period started on February 1. The House and Senate voted on January 31, to delay the application window to April 1.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.