Bill’s backpack bad for schools, say BG executives | Community

Bowling Green City Schools opposes a state bill that would allow all Ohio students to be eligible for a taxpayer-funded scholarship that will go wherever they go.

House Bill 290, known as the Backpack Scholarship Program, was introduced in May by Republicans Riordan McClain, Upper Sandusky, and Marilyn John, Shelby. It was referred to the House of Commons finance committee.

If adopted, it would start in the 2023-24 school year and allow students to enroll in the non-public school that they and their parents deem best for them.

Students will be able to choose from any participating non-public district.

“It’s called that because students can take a voucher amount with them to any private school that accepts vouchers,” said Board member Ginny Stewart. “These are dollars that are being taken out of public schools.”

Stewart introduced the resolution opposing the bill at Tuesday’s school board meeting. It was adopted unanimously.

“We must protect the interests of public schools and public education,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said after the school board unanimously voted in favor of the resolution. “This backpack bill weakens the public school sector.”

Stewart said Kindergarten to 8th grade students would get $ 5,500 and Grades 9 through 12 students would get $ 7,500 to help pay for non-public education.

Bowling Green officials believe the bill would divert taxpayer money from public schools to charter schools as well as private schools, which are not accountable to the Ohio taxpayer, according to the resolution.

This is the taxpayer’s money that taxpayers voted for one-time use of public education, Stewart said.

The Ohio Education Association published a comparison between report cards for public schools and private schools, she said.

The data does not support the belief that private schools outperform their public counterparts, said Stewart, adding that private and charter schools in Ohio are not subject to laws governing education standards and teacher qualifications. in public schools.

The resolution also says the bill would provide a subsidy to parents whose children are already enrolled in a private school.

The resolution states that direct student funding does not constitute funding for a school system as required by the Ohio Constitution.

According to its website, the Backpack Bill ties state resources to the student so that Ohio funds students and teachers, instead of buildings and bureaucrats.

“Every child is unique and families should be empowered to choose the best educational setting to meet their child’s needs. At the same time, the Backpack Bill ensures that Ohio maintains strong funding for community and public schools, ”according to the web page.

Even with the loss of students, the district will not see any savings because it will have the same number of staff, building and infrastructure costs, said Stewart.

Since nearly all of Ohio’s districts receive less state funds per student than their per-student deductions for charter students, public schools must effectively divert money from local taxes that have been approved by the local taxpayers for special purposes for the operation of schools. Universal vouchers would only exacerbate this injustice by also diverting local taxpayer money to private schools, according to the resolution.

The General Assembly should focus on ensuring the fundamental right of every child to a high-quality public education, according to the resolution.

“There is a lot of truth in what you just said,” Board member Ryan Myers told Stewart. “It’s been a battle for a long time.”

The resolution will be sent to Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, and Ohio Senator Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, as well as all other state lawmakers.

“We can make a difference. Number is power, ”said Stewart.

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