The two-year state budget process is moving forward, and it is taking school vouchers forward with it.
Today, the Ohio Senate proposed the creation of a Special Education Scholarship, much to the delight of the many families who have been sharing their stories with legislators for the past several months and years. The Senate also maintained the school voucher expansions proposed in the Ohio House and Senate.
Senate’s Special Education Scholarship proposal:
- For many years, parents of students with special needs have been asking for the same opportunities that students with autism already enjoy with the Autism Scholarship.
- The Autism Scholarship is a proven program that is making a difference for students. This scholarship expands eligibility beyond just one type of disability.
- A special education scholarship would allow any student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to receive a voucher worth approximately 80% of their public school funding.
- The program is capped at 5% of the students in the state with special needs which would provide just more than 13,000 scholarship opportunities statewide.
House of Representatives’ proposed expansions (proposed in April):
- Increase the Cleveland voucher amount to parity with the EdChoice Scholarship. Cleveland vouchers are now worth $1,100-$1,900 less than EdChoice, just because they’re in a different city. The House proposal addresses this historical inequity.
- Allow high school students to apply for a Cleveland voucher to address another historical inequity in the Cleveland voucher versus the EdChoice voucher – the inability of students of high school age to access a Cleveland voucher. The House proposal would allow Cleveland students in any grade to apply for a voucher.
Governor Kasich’s proposed expansions (proposed in March):
- Expand eligibility for the EdChoice Scholarship by adding a 2nd definition of low-rated schools based on performance index score. This change is estimated to increase EdChoice eligibility by more than 60% from 85,000 to 140,000 students.
- Quadruple the number of EdChoice Scholarships available to eliminate the current waiting list for families
- Add a summer EdChoice application window to allow newly-eligible families to apply for the upcoming school year.
All of these proposals build on each other and would mean major increases in voucher eligibility for Ohio families. If all these changes pass, eligibility would nearly quadruple from 120,000 to 440,000 and the number of vouchers available in capped programs would increase from 20,000 to almost 80,000 spots.
|Voucher Program||Current Capacity||Proposed Capacity||Current Eligibility||Proposed Eligibility|
The state budget is required to be finalized by June 30, after the House and Senate hammer out the differences between their versions in June.