The $7,074,113 EdChoice deduction was real money lost
Both Eric Silverman and James McMahon, in their Heights Observer opinions, correctly state the EdChoice voucher deduction cost to the CH-UH school district was $7,074,113 for the last school year [2019–20]. As an elected member of the school board I can tell you this amount in the prior year was $4,187,249 [2018–19] and the amount for this school year will be $9,017,250 [2020–21] (based on current data).
What is not correct: McMahon further states the district receives additional EdChoice funding from the state to offset these costs.
I want to clarify: the district’s state “Foundation Funding” (the amount the state deducts the EdChoice voucher amounts from) was: $21,307,455 [2018–19], $19,891,985 [2019–20] and $19,891,985 [2021–22].
Note how the amounts remain the same (except for last two years because of state budget cuts related to COVID). Our district is on a “cap” (frozen); this means our state Foundation Funding is fixed and is not impacted by student counts nor by how many students are receiving vouchers. Currently, if 500 new students showed up on our doorstep to either go to our schools, or qualify for a voucher, our state Foundation Funding remains the same.
Because of changes in the state law, we’ve seen the number of students receiving vouchers increase as follows: 889 [2018–19], 1,412 [2019–20] and 1,792 [2020–1]. Of the students using a voucher, 95% never attended the district [schools]. Silverman outlines this trend and the district’s challenges caused by EdChoice.
The $7,074,113 we lost in 2019–20 and the $9,017,250 for this school year was and is real money lost. It’s a LOT of money, and we don’t have any “Choice” over this. All of these facts and figures are audited by the state.
I want to remind our community there’s an organized campaign to discredit the schools and its leaders because of the school levy. It’s their free-speech right to make claim after claim of misinformation (or not). But there is no denying the challenges we face because of EdChoice and the unsustainable funding path our state has chosen to fund our schools.
Jim Posch is vice president of the CH-UH City School District Board of Education.