A lawmaker who backed the expansion of the state’s largest voucher program says it’s creating problems – with a 400 percent increase in the number of public school buildings where students will be eligible for private school vouchers by next school year.
So Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) is joining the calls to make changes before the EdChoice program starts accepting applications in a few weeks.
Huffman says the EdChoice expansion has created unintended consequences: “There are a lot of schools on this list that shouldn't be on the list." That includes buildings in some of the best and wealthiest school districts in the state.
Huffman is suggesting changes, such as restricting vouchers in high wealth districts and eventually having vouchers of $6,000 for high school students and $4,650 for younger kids paid by the state, not by districts.
“We have some school districts that get $200 from the state and that they pay $6,000 out for a voucher. But there's other school districts getting $9,000 from the state and they actually make money off the program," Huffman said.
The EdChoice application process opens February 1, so Huffman said a quick fix is needed. But the House isn’t set to come back for voting until the end of January, and the Senate has two sessions next month. A change to the program would have to pass both chambers to be signed into law.
Huffman has long backed vouchers, but said he doesn’t think vouchers for everyone who wants them is practical or possible under the current system. But he supports that – and has twice introduced a bill that would create a program for private and charter school vouchers that would provide them.