XENIA — Xenia Community School’s Board of Education passed a resolution opposing House Bill 290 Monday.
Known as the “Back Pack Bill,” HB 290 would allow K-12 students throughout Ohio to have their state share of educational funding follow them to the school that best suits their educational needs — public or private.
The board expressed myriad reasons for its opposition including:
— The bill would divert public tax dollars away from public schools to charter schools as well as private schools.
— The bill would provide a subsidy for parents whose children are already enrolled in private school.
— Evaluations of voucher systems in the past have determined that students who use such vouchers do not benefit from improved learning outcomes compared to similarly situated students attending public schools.
— Charter and private schools in Ohio are not subject to a multitude of laws governing education standards and teacher qualifications among other matters in public schools and may not be held to the same standards for protecting against religious and disability discrimination.
— The board finds that directly funding students does not constitute the funding of a system of schools as required by the Ohio constitution.
“Essentially, vouchers divert money from public schools to private ones to the detriment of our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton. “The decrease in funding can mean larger class sizes for Xenia students, as well as reduced resources overall. This can include a lack of funding for key staff members such as teachers, nurses, and counselors. Private schools are held to very different standards and maintain admission policies and practices that mean they can limit enrollment as they pick and choose which students to admit.”
Lofton added that private schools operate with little oversight from parents or the public in terms of their finances, curriculum, and even how they measure student success.
“Propping up these private entities with public dollars without the same level of accountability expected of our public schools is not responsible or wise,” he said.
Xenia has a variety of educational entities such as Legacy Christian Academy, St. Brigid Catholic School, Carroll High School in nearby Riverside, and the soon-to-open Community STE(A)M Academy — Xenia, a tuition free K-12 school.
“Families always have the option to choose a private education,” Lofton said. “However, I would emphasize that is is a personal choice and it is one that we should not be asking taxpayers to fund. It is our job as a public school to educate every student in our district and we will continue to fight for the resources to do so. Private schools have selective admissions and can choose who may enroll as a student. Public schools in contrast, are subject to compulsory education laws that require the state of Ohio to provide education to all students,” Lofton added.
State Rep. Bill Dean (R-Xenia) is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, according to the House of Representatives website. State Reps. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) and Marilyn John (R-Shelby) are the bill’s sponsors. HB 290 awaits its second hearing in the House Finance Committee, where proponents of the bill will provide testimony to the committee, and answer any questions the committee may have.
Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.