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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(628 comments)posted 2 years, 11 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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2SAVEOURCOUNTRY(470 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

this bill is bull. Many don't pay 2,300 in property tax, yet they would get a voucher to apply to send my kids to a private school. Yet I only pay 1500 dollars in Boardman in taxes. That is wrong, if anything, people should only get what they payed into there local taxes. If 500 of my taxes goes to support the schools, thats all I should get no matter how many kids I have.

If I decide to send my kids to public school, and the family across the street to private, why should they get my tax dollars and harm my kids education because quality teachers will now be layed off on the public sector? what happens when those from the hood are taken to get the money and kicked out and sent back to the public schools? The money stays currently, just ask Youngstown about that with all the failing charter schools and the rent a football players that happen at Ursuline and u know where else?( use them city kids and send them back)

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3Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 2 years, 11 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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4Lovie0520(9 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Prepare yourself to put a referendum on the ballot to stop this. If the legislature acts as they did with SB5 , it will be rammed through without consideration for the will of the people. The owner of the big charter ( schools run for profit) school franchises put a lot of money in the Kasich campaign. Don't think for one moment he is not going to get his couple of pounds of pork at your expense.

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5Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 2 years, 11 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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6Lovie0520(9 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

First of all the top parochial schools skim off the best of the talent from the city schools with scholarship opportunities for their high schools. They have more involved parents at the elementary levels and typically parents of greater economic stability that the general population. This is also evidence by their development of athletic prowess in students as well. Those students would do well anywhere. And while Ursuline and some parochial schools may have a fine tradition of academic excellence they are not compelled to educate everybody. A better prepared and socially adjusted pool of students will out perform a pool students of the general population where there is no ability to weed out or preferred selection process occurs. Ursuline is not the mirror of the majority of the charter schools around the state or the country for that matter. You can not compare apples to oranges. Academic excellence as global function of a school is tied to a number of things: economic stability of the families; high social functioning of the families and children; and appreciation of learning and education within those families that make up a school. Individual intelligence will be bolstered by those factors. Provide those factors and the children will achieve regardless of the affiliation of the school including PUBLIC schools.

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7SAVEOURCOUNTRY(470 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Silence dog,
I am not mistaken. Just like charter schools, these schools would get both local and state portions of the funding. It's wrong! As psyker99 stated, private and charter schools are not regulated as public schools are. The powers to be know and understand the true issues, yet they will not address them because it is political suicide. traditional private schools do perform better than public schools. WHY? not because of better teachers, but because of better parents and schools like those pick and choose who they take.
Public schools do not have that option.They must take your tired, poor, and lazy without question. Charter schools can even say no, yet public schools like Youngstown cannot. The system is set up to fail.
What do you think would happen if the state said Youngstown City Schools will close and all those students were to be sent to Poland or Canfield schools only. Those great teachers will within six months become the worst educators ever seen in public education. Would it be their fault that the kids don't come to school on a regular basis, or never take a book home to study or do ....homework....or care about learning anything at all?

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8nipsy(133 comments)posted 2 years, 11 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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