The Westerville City Schools Board of Education held a Special Emergency Meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, December 20, 2019, in the Early Learning Center, located at 936 Eastwind Drive in Westerville, Ohio. The Board passed the following resolution opposing the state’s recent expansion of the EdChoice Voucher Program due to its potential negative financial impact.
RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE EXPANSION OF EDCHOICE VOUCHERS
BY THE OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Whereas, with no testimony, no prior notice, and little explanation, the Ohio General Assembly added last-minute amendments regarding the expansion of EdChoice Vouchers before approving HB 166, the State’s biennium budget; and
Whereas, because of this action, EdChoice Vouchers are now available to any and every K-12 student in Ohio, regardless of grade level and/or whether he or she ever attended a public school; and
Whereas, just 18 months ago, 30 Ohio districts had schools designated for EdChoice (just five percent of the total number of districts across the state), but today, thanks to this change, 70 percent of districts in Ohio have schools designated for EdChoice; and
Whereas, much of the data used to make the new EdChoice determination is five or six years old and came from assessments the state no longer uses or is considering changing; and
Whereas, elected officials in Columbus froze public school budgets in the new budget bill and, at the same time, took money away from public schools by significantly and substantially increasing the numbers of students eligible to receive EdChoice vouchers, placing many school districts on the brink of financial emergency and uncertainty; and
Whereas, EdChoice imposes unfair burdens on local taxpayers who should not have to carry the millstone of the state’s efforts to subsidize private and parochial schools; and
Whereas, the legislative machinations used to pass the EdChoice expansion suggest a deliberate choice to undermine public schools and to shut out the voices of local communities;
Therefore, be it resolved, that we demand immediate financial relief be provided to districts disproportionately impacted by EdChoice vouchers; that the state not deduct EdChoice Scholarship payments from school district funds and should directly pay for some or all of the new vouchers added to the program this year; that a cap be placed on the amount of money that can be deducted from a district in any given year; and that the EdChoice program be reined in so that it makes more sense for students, families, and taxpayers, without decimating public school districts;
Therefore be it further resolved, that the Westerville City Schools Board of Education urges all lawmakers in the State of Ohio to refrain from approving any new legislation, or attaching any version thereof, before the original legislation has been properly vetted and heard by both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly, according to rules established by the Ohio Constitution.
A video of the meeting is available on the district’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/wcsdohio. District officials are holding a public information session to explain the negative impact of EdChoice expansion at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, January 6, 2020, at the district's Early Learning Center, 936 Eastwind Dr., Westerville.