Governor Kasich finalized momentous changes and expansions to Ohio’s school choice programs today as he signed the Ohio budget bill into law. The budget creates Ohio’s fourth school voucher program and expands two of the state’s existing voucher programs.
As a result, eligibility for vouchers in the Buckeye State will jump to almost 400,000 eligible students. The capacity in Ohio’s voucher programs will also quadruple to nearly 80,000 spots.
This is a monumental day for many families in Ohio who want and deserve the opportunity to send their children to the school that best meets their learning needs. Ohio families demanded more educational options for their children, and today it is evident that Ohio’s leaders listened.
The budget creates Ohio’s fourth school voucher program to provide scholarships for K-12 students with special needs. Named for a former state representative who advocated for the scholarship during his tenure in the statehouse, the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship will provide a scholarship to any child with special needs who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
In addition to the creation of the new scholarship program, the budget also expands and updates two existing scholarship programs. The EdChoice Scholarship Program will quadruple the number of scholarships available during the next two years to allow 60,000 scholarships by the 2012-13 school year. Eligibility for EdChoice also expanded to include students who attend the schools in the bottom 10 percent of the state, according to performance index scores. A second application window will open tomorrow and give families 45 days to apply.
The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program saw long-awaited improvements, including an $800-$1,550 per student increase in the scholarship amount to mirror the EdChoice Scholarship. Also, the program, previously limited to students entering grades K-8, is now open to students in any grade.
School Choice Ohio applauds the work of the Ohio legislature and Governor Kasich on this budget. Many more Ohio families will now have the chance to find the best learning environment for their child. These changes are a move in the right direction for Ohio.