Dear Finneytown Families,
You have probably heard in the news about legislative changes that were made to the EdChoice Scholarship program with the biennium budget bill. I’ve attached a great article that explains what EdChoice is and how it changed.
Prior to these changes, Finneytown has not had any EdChoice eligible schools. If nothing changes, starting in the 2020-2021 school year, the high school in Finneytown will be deemed an EdChoice school because of the changes in the legislation. Please read this article to get the details. I will have other info in my blog coming very soon so you can have resources.
Based on this new legislation, Finneytown will have to pay vouchers to private/parochial schools of $6000 per student grades 9-12. This is in addition to the Special Education, English Language Learner, Title I Interventions, and transportation supports the district already provides to students who attend private/parochial or community schools. This could be devastating to our budget. Students who already attend private/parochial schools will be able to apply for and receive these vouchers. Currently, Finneytown does not receive any money from the state for these students because they are not counted in our enrollment. The changes to the legislation do not include any form of payment from the state to the district to cover or offset these costs.
Why am I writing to you? I want you to be informed, I want you to get facts, and I want you to be prepared. Communication is key in all things and this is no different. I always want to keep you informed about conditions and changes in the district. I also know there is a lot of information swirling around and I want to at least put out some facts for you as a consumer of many sources of information. I also want you to be prepared for the impact this will have on the district budget if there are not modifications made to the current EdChoice legislation.
We were told there were changes coming to the EdChoice program when the biennium budget was passed. We did not get information about what those changes would be until recently. Just before the holidays, we received information that Finneytown High School will now be deemed an EdChoice School. Then we received information clarifying what that means and how that would affect the Finneytown budget.
Since that time, I’ve met with other district superintendents, treasurers, and Board members. I’ve met with legislators and an advocacy group I am part of. I’ve met with the Report Card Committee that I’m part of. I’ve reported this in the last two Board Meetings. At the last Board meeting, last Saturday, the Board adopted a resolution for us to send to legislators. I want to share that with you. It is attached and will be on our webpage. Tonight I attended an EdChoice News Media Event that should have been on the news this evening. Groups of Superintendents across Ohio held these media events at the same time tonight.
Superintendents (including me) and others have contacted legislators. They have publicly stated they hear us and will make changes. Those changes have to be made before February 1, 2020. That is the date the current legislative changes take effect. Our superintendent groups submitted some short and long-term suggestions. Legislators are promising to try to get some short-term changes made.
I realize that is the best they can do for now since the deadline is weeks away. Those short-term changes will help some districts. If they are successful in switching the cost from the districts to the state, the short-term fixes will help Finneytown. At this point, there are no guarantees. This could be devastating to Finneytown and to public education in general. We cannot stop at short-term remedies.
Please read this article and the Board resolution I am attaching. Please ask questions you may have. Please feel free to contact legislators. I’m attaching contacts for key education legislators and those involved in this specific issue. Legislators need to hear your thoughts and concerns. So do I. Please!