Half of Ohio's Students Would be Eligible for Private School Vouchers Under Gov. Kasich's New Education Plan

Under a dramatic expansion of Ohio's existing voucher programs that has been proposed by Gov. John Kasich in this year's budget, nearly half of all Ohio students would be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools.

Vouchers are publicly-funded tuition subsidies for students that attend private school. Ohio currently offers vouchers to students that are assigned to low-performing schools and the Cleveland schools, as well as students with special needs and autism.

Gov. Kasich wants students throughout the state to be able to apply for vouchers, regardless of students' special needs or their school district's performance.

Under Kasich's proposal, students in low-income families (under $46,100 for a family of 4). 45% (1.8 million) of Ohio elementary, middle and high school students would meet the new criteria for vouchers. Initially made available to kindergarteners, the kindergarteners would retain their vouchers as the moved onto first grade.

The intend is for students to continue to receive vouchers each year, for as long as they meet the criteria. Over two years, Kasich's budget would set aside $25.5 million for these vouchers. This is enough to fund vouchers for 6,000 students over two years. The state would not deduct funding from public school districts for each student that receives one of the vouchers.

Students in grades K-3 who struggle in reading would also become eligible to receive vouchers. According to the Dayton Daily News, students that fail state reading tests or fail to progress in reading will be eligible. In this case, the state would deduct funding from public school districts for each student that receives a voucher.

None of this will go into effect, however, unless Kasich's plan makes it through the legislature intact. A 2011 bill that would have expanded vouchers in Ohio failed in light of school district opposition.