The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program saw an increase in scholarship amounts in the new state budget. Cleveland scholarship amounts will now be equal (in theory) to EdChoice scholarship amounts.
While the increase is a great step forward for Cleveland families, it will also escalate their financial burden. Cleveland scholarship recipients, unlike families in any other state voucher program, are required to pay 10 or 25 percent of the scholarship amount. The Ohio Senate proposed eliminating the co-pay during the budget process, but it was not eliminated in the final version of the budget. With the increase in total scholarship amounts, each family’s copay will also rise.
Below are excerpts from a letter written to School Choice Ohio by Peggy Schauer, principal of Luther Memorial School in Cleveland, in which she expresses her concerns about the parent copay requirement.
I am elated with the steps our elected leaders have taken to expand and better fund school choice options in our state. However, I am concerned that the parent portion of tuition was kept in the final stages of the budget process. Families in other school choice programs such as charter schools in Cleveland do not have to pay tuition. Similarly, parents in the EdChoice program are not required to pay tuition either.
Our families make tremendous sacrifices already to send their children to private schools. In fact, our parents make greater sacrifices than their suburban counterparts to pay for private school. When you consider that 40% of all Clevelanders make less than $15,000 per year and 40% or more of all Westlake citizens make over $100,000 per year, this breaks down to Cleveland parents spending 6% of their annual income on private school education and Westlake parents spending 4%. (City-Data.com on 2009 census data)
The increase in funding, while a wonderful thing, will sadly transfer an additional burden on our families to pay 10% of the new funding amount. I know that an additional $70 per child per year doesn’t seem like much; but when you revisit the annual incomes of the families we serve, I fear that many families will feel that school choice is once again out of reach for their child.
Our kids need and deserve every opportunity to compete with the students in Westlake and throughout the world. Our parents need and deserve every option available to get them there.