Sidney BOE opposes voucher program

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — A resolution opposing the state of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship (voucher) program was approved Monday night by the Sidney City Schools Board of Education.

According to Superintendent Bob Humble, the voucher program was placed into the budget bill after both the Ohio Senate and Ohio House held hearings on it. He said when the bill was voted on, senators and representatives had the option of voting yes for the entire bill or voting no if they didn’t like the voucher program. A no vote was against the entire bill.

The amendments, or changes, allows for more vouchers to be provided to students who attend private/parochial schools and who have never attended Sidney City Schools or other public schools in the state.

“The highest performing school in the state has at least one school which is failing,” said Humble. “These vouchers are going to hurt our district a great deal.”

The failing districts were identified by the state’s Report Card for each district.

Humble said a student attending grades 9-12 at Christian Academy or Lehman Catholic High School are eligible to receive %6,000 per school year. This amount, said Humble, is more than the district receives per student from the state of Ohio. The difference in the amount, he said, is coming from local tax dollars.

A student going to Holy Angels — if they would have attended Longfellow School in Sidney — would be eligible for $4,600 per school year, he said.

The resolution states that “private/parochial schools accepting students with public tax vouchers would not be required to accept all students but would be permitted to retain their selective admission policies without enforcement of other laws applicable to public schools.”

The private/parochial school students, the resolution goes on, “are not subject to the testing standards required of public school students so that the actual performance of private/parochial schools subsidized with public tax money will not be known.”

“This is not a scholarship program,” said Humble. “It’s taking tax money from our district.”

“Public education is not funded enough,” said Board President Bob Smith. “Now they’re (state) is taking more money from the district” to pay for the voucher program.

Humble said he has been in contact with Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, 85th District, about his concerns. He recommended anyone concerned with the voucher program contact Vitale, Rep. Susan Manchester, R-Waynesfield, 84th District, and Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, 12th District.

In other business, the board:

• Reviewed the proposed calendars for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. Classes would begin the day after Labor Day each year. The calendars will be discussed further at the February meeting. Two-week breaks at Christmas and a week for spring break are included in the calendar.

• Went into executive session to consider the employment of an employee. No action was taken.

• Heard the financial report from Treasurer Mike Watkins who said the state payments for the preschool program are being received for the district. He said purchased services expenses are ahead of what was budgeted by $500,000..

• Approved amended appropriations for fiscal year 2020 for school safety grant fund, $14,014.19, and Expanding Opportunities for EACHCHILD fund, $445,000.

• Accepted the resignations of Tim Elmore, custodian, effective Jan. 7, and Arun Nagpal, physics teacher, effective Aug. 31; and the retirement of Meg Raterman, high incident aide, effective June 1.

• Approved a leave of absence request from Norbert Mertz, bus driver, from Jan. 1 to Feb. 29, 2020.

The board’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. in the community room at the board office.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.