After what sponsors say is a year of work to “find the right approach,” a new version of a bill that would tie school funding to every student was introduced Tuesday at Ohio House.
The Ohio House Finance Committee heard about House Bill 290, which would create an “opt-in” approach to private scholarship funding and allow students to take with them funding that would normally go to public school districts when opting for a private one. school choice.
“The primary education option would remain the local public school,” State Rep. Riordan McClain, R-Upper Sandusky, told the committee.
According to the bill, if a family chooses to go the private school route, an education savings account would be created for the child, and the state’s share of education funding there would be filed “so that parents find the right educational path for their child. “, according to McClain.
The program would have an annual disbursement of $5,500 for K-8 students and $7,500 for high school students, identical to the funding model of the EdChoice private school voucher program in the state.
Private school groups, as well as the religious freedom lobby, the Center for Christian Virtue, have thrown their support behind the bill, saying it allows parents to choose the education they want for their children.
The so-called “backpack bill” has been criticized by public education officials as another misuse of public school funds, which they say does not create the “thorough and effective” required of the state by the constitution.
“HB 290 would require local communities to rely even more heavily on local property taxes to fund schools for the 90% of Ohio’s children who attend public schools,” said Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro.
Federal education money and individual school district levy money would not be tied to the child under the bill, only the state’s share of education, generally paid to districts under form of global sum.
Bill sponsor McClain and state Rep. Marilyn John of R-Richland County acknowledged that the financial analysis of the bill was still ongoing, but said the bill would not should not be considered anti-public school legislation.
“Rather, it’s a pro-child, pro-parent, pro-family bill that allows parents and families to make a choice that’s in the best interest of their child,” John said.
Representatives who led the most recent charge for the Fair Schools Funding Plan, the new overhaul of the state’s education funding system, questioned why the bill was introduced before the impact of the redesign can be assessed.
“When we haven’t fully secured funding for our public schools, and we know we’ve had over 26 years without constitutionally funding it…to open a process to take more money out of public schools without even giving them a luck,” said state Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland. “Let’s move on to this six-year phased introduction, let’s really see if this system works. »
McClain said they don’t expect a mass exodus to private schools if their funding plan passes, and even see it as one that could work alongside the public school funding overhaul.
Yet having the option to switch to private schools could “create a competitive market” for children and parents to make educational decisions.
The committee will hear testimony from opponents and supporters at upcoming hearings on the bill.
This story was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal.