Thursday, September 22, 2011

Education Committee Passes Huffman's School Choice Bill

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House Education Committee has passed legislation that reforms and expands school choice within the state of Ohio. When enacted, House Bill 136 will add private schools as an option for some families, along with open enrollment, charter/community schools, special education scholarships and joint-vocational schools.

The bill creates the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings (PACT) scholarships, which gives scholarships to middle-income families based on need, similar to the federal Pell grant.

“Parents, not the state, are in the best position to choose which school their child should attend,” said State Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who sponsored the bill. “Along with open enrollment to other districts, charter/community schools and other schools, private schools would now be an option for families that previously could not afford that option. House Bill 136 will empower parents and will provide our communities with a more comprehensive educational structure.”

The PACT scholarship is $4,600 at its maximum and will be paid from state funding, not local tax dollars. This amount represents at least 20 percent less than the amount paid for charter schools, open enrollment and other school choice programs. Recipients will be counted in the local district’s average daily count, which will bring additional state dollars to the district.

“This program will result in substantial savings to the taxpayer, while giving parents another option for their child,” said Huffman.

House Bill 136 received eight hearings in the House Education Committee and now awaits a vote by the full House.