Deadline Nears For School Voucher Program - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Deadline Nears For School Voucher Program

TOLEDO -- The deadline is drawing near if you want to apply for Ohio's controversial school voucher program. Over 4,600 students across the state are eligible for what is now the largest program of its kind in the nation, but the program is dividing both public and private schools.

The voucher program allows tax money to pay for the education of students who are attending poorly-performing public schools, but want to switch to private schools.

Officials at Toledo Christian Schools have been handing out cards that list Toledo Public Schools that are in academic watch or emergency status. Dan Bragg, Toledo Christian Schools superintendent, told News 11, "I don't feel like we're stealing students. I think we're giving another option -- that Toledo Public is not the only game in town. There are other places to educate your children."

But opponents say the practice diverts funding from schools that need it the most. John Foley, Toledo Public School interim superintendent, says, "It's another attempt by the state legislature to say that public schools -- especially urban public schools -- don't have the opportunity to make change. So we'll take the money, send it with the kids, let them go to other opportunities."

Janine Harden hopes to pull her daughter out of a charter school and enroll her at Toledo Christian in the second grade. Tuition is $4,500. She could get a state voucher worth $4,250. "Oh, it plays a big part. There's no way I would have been able to afford sending her to a private school," Janine says.

The issue of using taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition -- particularly at religious institutions -- is controversial. Foley says, "This is an issue of separation of church and state. Some of the schools are coming from a marketing standpoint that if you want a Christian education, come to me."

That's exactly what they're doing at Toledo Christian Schools. Bragg says, "We want students that come our way to be Christian families, families that buy into our Biblical beliefs, standards of conduct."

The deadline for applying for a school voucher is June 9th, but it appears that not many people know about the program. Although more than 46,000 students are eligible to apply for vouchers, and 14,000 vouchers were available as of May 15th, only 450 students have submitted applications.

To find out whether your son or daughter is eligible, and to learn how to apply, click on the "As seen on News 11" link on wtol.com.

Posted by PJS

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