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Niles schools chief speaks out against School Choice Bill

Published: Sat, October 22, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.

By Jordan Cohen



The superintendent of Niles schools warns that a bill before the Ohio House of Representatives authorizing the use of public-school funds to pay for student vouchers to private and parochial schools could be a disaster for the financially strapped district if it becomes law.

“They want to take money that voters in Niles approved for our district and use it to pay for kids to go to other parochial and private schools,” said schools Superintendent Mark Robinson. “I have a real concern about the constitutionality and what this could do to our district.”

House Bill 136, referred to as the School Choice Bill, would award scholarships of $2,300 to $4,600 to students attending Ohio public schools who want to transfer to private or religious institutions.

Families with annual incomes of up to $95,000 would be eligible for the scholarships. So would students who already are enrolled in private or religious schools.

The money would be taken from public-school funding, much of which is raised through operating levies.

The bill recently was approved in a committee by a narrow margin. It has not yet been scheduled for a floor vote.

District Treasurer Linda Molinaro released a five-year plan earlier this month that forecasts sizable deficits exacerbated by an anticipated loss of $959,000 in revenue in the 2012 fiscal year.

The treasurer attributes the projected loss to state funding cuts and declining property-tax collections.

Marlene Rhodes, school- board president, said diverting even more local funds for students to attend nonpublic schools will make things worse.

“The bill would give these [private and parochial] schools tax dollars voters approved for public schools,” Rhodes said. “This really is an example of taxation without representation.”

The board has joined a number of other school districts in passing a resolution opposing the School Choice Bill. Robinson said the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, of which he is a board member, is encouraging the Legislature to reject it.


1ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Can't stand the competition heh? The state money doesn't belong to the district but is earmarked for the students, and should follow a student to wherever he or she goes to school.

Taxation without representation is a family who pays school taxes but sends children to private school and does not receive any benefit from those taxes. Now that is unfair.

Just remember the old adage that you school officials trot out when it suits your interests, "It's for the children. Anything for the children".

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2Education_Voter(1174 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Save our Country, you mean $6,000, because that's what these people will get.
ytownsteelman: What about MY representation? I don't have children in school. I don't want my money wasted on schools that exist so that some people can feel superior to others.
There are more people in my shoes than yours.
Why not bring it to a vote of the people, instead of letting bought and paid for state politicians make the decision?

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3Education_Voter(1174 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, I should have been more clear. They get $4,600. in this bill for high school. Every year they will raise the amount some.
Don't we know their patterns by now?

What happened to their claim that it was all about academic quality and all of the billions of dollars they spent on testing programs to prove it?

Now that it has been shown that parochial and Christian schools do not have better achievement, their politicians decide to just take the money they need to keep these schools open.

If they were any good, they wouldn't need the vouchers. There's a waiting list to get into St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. But here, ask yourself why, by far most Catholics have their kids in public school. What do they know that you don't?

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4Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

SAVEOURCOUNTRY I think you may have a slight misunderstanding as to the revenue stream that this bill impacts. It is very much like the monies that are in play with open enrollment, it is the state portion of the funding stream that is impacted by this bill , NOT the local monies.

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5Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

"Now that it has been shown that parochial and Christian schools do not have better achievement, their politicians decide to just take the money they need to keep these schools open."

How about a comparison of scholarship monies awarded for last years 100+ graduate students of Ursuline compared to the top 100+ students from the Youngstown Schools system which would represent just the top percent of the class as compared to the entire class at Ursuline. These would reflect what the Universities really think about the two different school systems.

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6nipsy(161 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Private schools are a great thing and most people can afford to send their children to a parochial school if that is what they really want. There are payment plans and people can get loans and there are even scholarships and financial aid available for families..But, to take money from the Public schools to finance education in Parochial or Charter schools is non-sense!!! The Public school system will collapse if this happens, but then maybe that is what they want....Who needs issue 2 ? Just destroy the public schools!!! Parochial and Charter Schools don't have union contracts to worry about...

The public school system is the backbone of our State, hell! even our country...For the little bit of money that we each pay in taxes yearly, our children get free access to a quality education..And despite the reports that other countries are doing a better job than we are, I would put the majority of our public schools up against any other system in the world....

I will take the system as is...

In my opinion this is another step toward privatization of every state service that we pay for with our hard earned DOLLARS. The Turnpike, Prisons and now Schools...I am not aware of many instances of privatization that work very well....It just enriches people who are tied to POLITICIANS......

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