Important information regarding EdChoice
Dear Forest Hills School District Families,
I want to share important information with you regarding significant legislative changes that could negatively impact Forest Hills School District and result in a loss of funding.
This fall, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released guidelines outlining an expansion of the EdChoice Scholarship Program. This program provides tuition vouchers to students who attend schools deemed “underperforming” by ODE to help cover the cost to attend a parochial or private school.
Under the new guidelines, more than 400 of the state’s 610 Ohio school districts now have at least one school on the “underperforming” list, including Forest Hills’ Ayer Elementary. That is a 300% increase from previous years. Additionally, nearly half of the schools listed received passing grades on the most recent Ohio Department of Education report card.
This designation is not an accurate reflection of the outstanding education that our Forest Hills students receive. Ayer Elementary is a high-performing school and received an overall grade of “B” on the 2019 report card. As with all of our schools, Ayer Elementary students earned above-average results on state tests and Ayer is recognized as a “Hall of Fame” school by the ODE for going above and beyond to meet the needs of all students.
Please note that this part of ODE’s EdChoice program is not funded by the state; it is to be paid for by local school district taxpayers. Currently, the state of Ohio allocates $2,035 per student for the Forest Hills School District; however, under the new guidelines, the district will be forced to pay $4,650 for each EdChoice scholarship, which means the local taxpayers are left to cover the difference, which amounts to $2,615 for each scholarship. This money will come directly from the district’s operating budget. Additionally, Forest Hills would be required to pay the scholarship amount for each subsequent year that the student is enrolled in private school. This would further drain district resources and take opportunities away from our students.
Treasurer/CFO Alana Cropper and I, along with lobbyists, are fighting for much-needed amendments to the EdChoice program to protect Forest Hills and other similar districts. We are keeping a close eye on the program and its potential impact on our students and taxpayers and promise to keep you informed. Please stay tuned for more information in the coming months.
If you would like to voice your support for Forest Hills, I urge you to use the letter below to contact our local representatives:
Representative Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr.
Senator Steve Wilson
As a community member in the Forest Hills School District, I was disappointed to learn that Ayer Elementary, a school that earned an overall grade of “B” on the 2018-2019 state report card and performs among the top 10% of all public elementary schools in Ohio, was designated as “underperforming” by the EdChoice Scholarship Program.
While I understand that EdChoice is intended to support students in Ohio’s lowest-performing districts, the expanded scholarship program mislabels above-average schools as “failing.” Ohio went from having 120 schools eligible for EdChoice in the previous academic year to an anticipated 1200 schools in the upcoming year. That is a 900% increase. Nearly half of the eligible schools received overall grades of either “A,” “B,” or “C” on the 2018-2019 report card. This demonstrates that not only is the program flawed, but it is based on conflicting data that labels some of the state’s best schools as “failing.”
As a taxpayer, I am deeply troubled that my tax dollars will be funneled away from Forest Hills School District to pay for these vouchers. Currently, the state of Ohio gives FHSD $2,035 per student, however, district taxpayers will be forced to pay $4,650 for each EdChoice scholarship. This disparity in funds will further drain Forest Hills of funding, take opportunities away from our students, and have serious consequences for public education across Ohio. As private schools are not held to the same testing standards, there is no guarantee that a student will attend a higher-performing school through the EdChoice scholarship. Meanwhile, my neighbors and I will pay the bill.
I sincerely urge you to amend the state’s expanded EdChoice Scholarship Program before February 1st. Please consider the following amendments to protect public education and taxpayers:
- Any school receiving an overall performance grade of A, B or C should not become subject to EdChoice eligibility.
- Funding for any EdChoice voucher should come from the state and not local taxpayers.
I strongly support the outstanding teaching and learning taking place at Ayer Elementary School. Please amend this legislation to protect our local public schools and taxpayer dollars.