Ohio’s State Budget Bill – Exploding Vouchers, Lax Charter School Oversight

Exploding Vouchers. Returning to Pre-ECOT Oversight of Charter Schools.

The July passage of House Bill 166, the state’s two-year operating budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, signaled a disturbing return to the lax oversight of Ohio’s charter school system that led to a massive taxpayer scandal, as well as a continued expansion of the transfer of taxpayer funds from public to mostly-religious private schools.

When Governor Mike DeWine signed HB166 into law, he approved a budget that lawmakers had packed full of little-noticed gifts to those who seek to erode support for traditional public schools through a proliferation of charter and private school options funded at taxpayer expense.

 

The budget bill included four major gifts to the school choice crowd, namely:

1. Weakening Ohio’s Automatic Charter School Closure Law
2. Weakening Standards for Dropout Recovery Schools
3. Weakening Oversight of Charter School Sponsors
4. Increasing the Transfer of Taxpayer Dollars To Private Schools Via Vouchers

 

The voucher expansion alone, if fully adopted, could cost Ohio districts at least another $73 million over the biennium, on top of an already ballooning $389 million per year private school voucher program.

Innovation Ohio’s latest analysis looks at how the state budget expands the state’s already exploding voucher program while reversing progress to bring accountability to charter schools.