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Published: Tuesday, 4/23/2013

Sylvania schools oppose Kasich’s voucher proposal

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Sylvania School District Board of Education voiced opposition Monday to a provision in Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget that proposes to expand publicly funded vouchers to private or parochial schools.

The board members voted 5-0 to oppose a section of Governor Kasich’s budget that aims to expand the Educational Choice Scholarship Program by providing school tuition vouchers for kindergarten students to attend parochial or private schools for the fiscal year 2013-14.

The budget also extends the voucher program to first graders in the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.

“We want to communicate that we don’t think it’s appropriate to transfer public dollars to finance private education,” Superintendent Brad Rieger said.

The school administration’s opposition to the provision will be presented to state legislators and other state educational organizations such as the Ohio School Board Association, Mr. Rieger said.

Treasurer Laura Sauber said the total financial effect of the state’s scholarship program will not be known until they determine how many students will participate in the voucher program.

However, the district estimated that its cost per pupil would be $5,700, of which the district would be required to finance $4,100.

Mrs. Sauber said the state provides only $1,600 to $1,700 of the per pupil cost.

Mrs. Sauber said that revenue from local taxes and the school’s levies would be used to finance the voucher cost.

Vicki Donovan-Lyle, board president, pointed out that the Sylvania School District already pays about $1.5 million per year to community or charter schools for students, grades kindergarten to 12.

Board member Jim Nusbaum said the state should finance the total cost per pupil.

“A state program that takes money away from us impedes our ability to do that [provide excellence in education] and trickles down to the local taxpayer,” he said.

The state budget bill was recently passed by the Ohio House of Representatives and is being reviewed by the state Senate. A final budget is expected to pass in June.

The Educational Choice Scholarship Program proposes to provide tuition vouchers to entering kindergarten students with a family household income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level to attend a private school. The program would be extended to first graders in the second year, Mrs. Sauber said.

A second proposal would offer vouchers to students enrolled in schools that fail to meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for two successive years.

The Third Grade Reading Guarantee is an initiative that requires that students have a certain reading proficiency before moving on to the fourth grade.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: ntrusso@theblade.com or 419-206-0356.



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