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District leaders invite public to session on negative local impact of state voucher expansion

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Superintendent Dr. John Kellogg and Treasurer/CFO Nicole Marshall are hosting an information session on the negative local impact of upcoming expansion to Ohio’s Educational Choice (EdChoice) Scholarship program. The session begins at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, January 6, 2020, at the district’s Early Learning Center, 936 Eastwind Dr., Westerville.

EdChoice deducts local tax money from public schools and diverts it to pay for the private education of children who reside within designated public schools' attendance areas but attend a participating private school. Kellogg and Marshall will explain how expansion of EdChoice siphons local tax dollars away from public schools, ways in which the state continues to shift the burden of funding education to local taxpayers, why metrics being used by the state to identify voucher-eligible public schools are questionable, and what efforts are underway to prevent EdChoice expansion from taking effect in February.

“A year and a half ago, out of slightly more than 600 public school systems in Ohio, only 30 of them had at least one school eligible for EdChoice vouchers,” Kellogg said. “Today, thanks to this change, more than 400 districts have schools designated for EdChoice.”

Marshall said the negative financial impact of what legislators have approved will be significant to public school systems across the state because locally-voted tax dollars will be used to fund EdChoice expansion.

“In the state’s latest budget, legislators essentially froze the revenue they provide to public school districts, while at the same time approved the siphoning of local revenue away from them through the EdChoice voucher expansion,” Marshall explained. “The General Assembly added these last-minute amendments to expand vouchers with no testimony, no prior notice, and little explanation. Their actions have placed many school districts on the brink of financial emergency and uncertainty.”

The Westerville City School District Board of Education held an emergency meeting on December 20, 2019, to approve a resolution opposing voucher expansion. Among other recommendations, the resolution calls for immediate financial relief for districts disproportionately impacted by vouchers, and for the EdChoice program be “reined in so that it makes more sense for students, families, and taxpayers, without decimating public school districts.”

A video of the Board’s emergency meeting is available on the district’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/wcsdohio and the resolution’s content is available in a news release on the district’s website at www.wcsoh.org.