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Ohio School Groups Back Plan To Overhaul Private School Vouchers

School supplies
Vishwanatha Srinivasan

Ohio's major school associations are backing the House plan to phase out the state's private school voucher program.

The Ohio House passed legislation that would grant vouchers based on a family's income, instead of basing vouchers off of a school building's academic performance.

A group representing superintendents, school treasurers and school board members say they support that plan, which now goes to the Ohio Senate.

There are currently 1,227 public school buildings set to be designated as "failing" on the EdChoice voucher list, making students in those districts eligible for vouchers.

Northern Local Schools superintendent Tom Perkins says if this doesn’t change, more voucher money will suddenly be pulled from districts for students who were already going to private schools.

"The fear isn't the students leaving, it's the ones that are currently there that have never attended and the funding going to them, that's the real concern," Perkins says.

School groups prefer an all-income-based voucher system, because those vouchers are paid for by the state. But EdChoice supporters say changing it would pull the rug out from under parents who are counting on the current law.

The House and Senate is expected to hold several hearings about the future of Ohio's EdChoice program. The Senate's plan would keep part of the program that grants vouchers to students going to failing schools and also increase the threshold for income-based vouchers.

School administrators argue that the report card system that determines failing school buildings is flawed.

Legislators now have until April 1 to work out a compromise before the EdChoice program opens applications.

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.