NEWS: Ohio's EdChoice Expansions Poised to Help Thousands

From The Mansfield News Journal:

MANSFIELD — The newly-signed state budget has more than doubled the number of state-funded scholarships available for students in low-performing public schools to attend private schools.

Echoing Gov. John Kasich’s desire to expand school choice, the number of EdChoice Scholarships in Ohio has been expanded from 14,000 to 30,000 for the upcoming school year.

Eligible students have through Aug. 15 to apply for the new scholarships. The criteria for EdChoice-designated public schools has changed, but Mansfield Middle School remains the only such school in Richland County. Students who attended the school last school year or are scheduled to attend the upcoming school year are eligible to apply for the state scholarships. Students who attend community schools, but would otherwise attend Mansfield Middle School, also are eligible.

Schools previously had to be rated on academic watch or academic emergency, the lowest ratings on the state report card, for two of the last three school years to be labeled a low-performing school. The new standard includes schools in the lowest 10 percent of all public school buildings by performance index score for two of the last three school years.

The change adds 31 schools to the list of 197 schools statewide considered EdChoice-designated public school buildings. The list is based on test results from the 2009-10 school year and previous years.

If a student is eligible for the EdChoice Scholarship program, the first step is to apply for admission at a participating private school. Students must be accepted for enrollment at a participating private school and then apply for an EdChoice Scholarship through the private school.

The EdChoice Scholarship amount is $4,250 for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, $5,000 for high school students, or the private school’s actual tuition amount, whichever is lower. Parents typically have to pay the difference if the tuition is higher than the scholarship.

Several private schools in the Mansfield area are registered to participate in the scholarship program.

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