Boardman schools oppose state expansion of voucher program
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
The board of education approved a resolution Monday in opposition to two voucher programs included in Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget.
The proposed budget calls for an expansion of the Educational Choice Scholarship program through two new options.
One option would provide vouchers for private or parochial tuition to any kindergarten student of a family with a household income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level for the first year of the budget, and expand to include first-grade students the second year.
The second program would offer vouchers to students enrolled in schools that fail to meet the third-grade reading guarantee for two successive years. This guarantee requires that some third-graders be held back if they cannot read at grade level.
The Boardman resolution states that “the operation of the proposed programs would effectively reduce funds from the already financially beleaguered local public school districts, resulting in fewer resources for the education of remaining students.”
Ohio currently has four voucher programs. The resolution also says that about $1 billion is being deducted from public-school districts as a result of these four programs and charter-school deductions.
The Boardman school district has lost $10.9 million to the voucher program in the last 15 years, said Richard Santilli, treasurer.
“So to open this up even more would be very, very difficult for Boardman schools,” he said.
The district receives from the state, on average, $1,400 per student, board member Kimberly Poma said. For each student who chooses to leave the district through the voucher program, the district loses about $8,000. The difference comes from taxpayer dollars, she said.
The district has 230 students who have chosen to attend other schools through the Educational Choice Scholarship program.
“Expansion of it is ridiculous,” Poma said.
The biennial budget has passed through the House. The Senate will now debate it.
The board also approved Timothy Saxton, current principal of Boardman High School, as director of operations. Saxton will fill the position vacated by James Massey last year. Jared Cardillo, assistant principal of the high school, will replace Saxton.