Republican leaders in the Senate have approved a deal that would stop a dramatic increase in the number of public school buildings where students will be eligible for private school vouchers starting this weekend.
The Ohio Senate Higher Education Committee has passed an EdChoice voucher deal along party lines.
It exempts buildings with As, Bs, Cs & Ds that are not in the bottom 20% of performance index scores. Students at 425 school buildings would be eligible for vouchers under this compromise, with 802 buildings being removed from the 1,227 that were set to be EdChoice eligible on Saturday.
And it would also expand state-paid income-based vouchers to 300% of the federal poverty level - more than $78,000 a year for a family of four.
There were questions about how high that income threshold would go - with some speculation that it could expand to 400% of the federal poverty level, or nearly $105,000 a year for a family of four.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) has a problem with that.
“I have advised the members of our caucus, the people who are big advocates for school choice that I’ve been down the road and seen this before, and when you open the gates too wide sometimes you drown what you’re trying to save," Householder said.
Householder also wants K-3 literacy rates to be dropped as a factor in determining whether a building is failing and therefore students qualify for EdChoice vouchers, which are taken out of school district budgets.
The Senate deal also includes a last minute change to dissolve academic distress commissions for school districts that received a D or higher for the latest report card - that appears to apply only to the Lorain City Schools. Democrats on the committee voted against the deal, but have wanted an end to state school takeovers.
Householder issued this statement after the Senate committee passed the bill: “We look forward to reviewing the Senate’s proposals. The House is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday. A House-Senate conference committee has already been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.”
**This story has been updated to reflect Tuesday evening's developments.**