WILMINGTON — Wilmington school board members and the superintendent are letting Columbus know they’re unhappy with the state’s EdChoice voucher program because of the way it’s funded and the way eligibility is set up.
For this school year, the Wilmington City Schools (WCS) district saw a loss of $420,000 in revenue to fund vouchers that pay or partially pay the tuitions of about 90 children to attend private schools, Wilmington City Schools Treasurer Kim DeWeese said after Monday’s board meeting.
At the meeting, the board of education voted to approve a resolution opposing the EdChoice voucher program, at least as it currently exists. Copies of the board’s resolution will be forwarded to state legislators, the state superintendent of public instruction, and the governor.
WCS Superintendent Melinda “Mindy” McCarty-Stewart said there is “inequity” in the way EdChoice is paid for due to voucher dollars coming from tax revenue that otherwise would go to public school districts.
Moreover, the school district opposes the indicators being used to designate EdChoice public schools whose students become eligible to receive vouchers, said the superintendent. Some of the criteria determining which school buildings will be designated as an EdChoice school are based on old data, said McCarty-Stewart.
The WCS district is hardly alone in its opposition, and state lawmakers are expected to vote on a compromise that could stop a huge increase in the number of Ohio public school buildings where students would be eligible for private school vouchers.
The EdChoice eligibility list currently stands at 517 buildings across the state, and unless there is a change that would increase to over 1,200 buildings. Presently, the only WCS school building designated as an EdChoice school is Holmes Elementary.
In addition to the school buildings that are EdChoice-designated based on academic performance criteria, there is a separate low-income eligibility program. Students may be eligible for EdChoice scholarships if they meet low-income requirements.
Income-based vouchers, however, are paid for by the state, not by school districts.
In other news, Denver Place Elementary fourth-grade science teacher Justin Stout has been selected to work for a non-profit company in India this summer for two to three weeks, said Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel. Stout will experience real-world engineering problems and solutions and later will publish an article related to it.
The board approved a field trip for WHS students to visit the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. Students will travel there in April by chartered bus service.
The board approved a field trip for middle and high school students to compete in a Rube Goldberg competition on Leap Day in February in Osgood, Indiana.
The Wilmington band program received two donations: $300 from the Wilmington Lions Club and $30 from Robert Collins.
High school Media Specialist (library) Steve Reed recognized students Parker Henry and Noah Sweetman, both participants of the Cane Tech Squad program, as well as Grace Wade from Reed’s Tech Integration class held in the fall semester.
Reed, who helps administer the school’s Chromebooks program, lauded Henry and Sweetman for helping teachers feel more comfortable trying out new technology in the classroom. “Parker and Noah have jumped into that role,” he said.
Students in the Tech Integration class created digital portfolios and Reed showed on a screen Wade’s e-portfolio. He noted Wade continued to work on the well-done portfolio during Christmas break and has continued to build it since returning after the holidays.
Later, Supt. McCarty-Stewart complimented Henry (Sweetman was absent) as being part of the backbone of the Cane Tech Squad. The superintendent also lauded Wade’s technical skills, interest in finance and her e-portfolio, adding, “And she’s an amazing writer as well, just a beautiful writer.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.