According to numbers supplied by the Bowling Green City Schools district, 73 students left this academic year and went to a private or parochial school, using EdChoice dollars.

Last school year, that number was 31.

Just under $342,000 followed Bowling Green students out of the school district this academic year, up from $138,855 in school year 2019-20.

For the current school year, 27 students left Bowling Green for St. Aloysius Catholic School, 13 went to Bowling Green Christian Academy, 15 to St. Louis Catholic School in Custar, 11 to the Montessori School of Bowling Green, four to Sleek Academy, one to St. John’s Jesuit School in Toledo, and two to Lial Catholic School in Whitehouse.

“The system used to measure (a school) was a broken system,” said Superintendent Francis Scruci.

Kenwood was placed in the EdChoice program in March 2019. It was removed after the state legislature approved changes to the program.

Removing Kenwood from EdCoice proves “what we’ve said along. It isn’t a broken school,” Scruci said.

“We have really good teachers and really good things going in our schools … but based on the metrics used by the state, you wouldn’t know,” Scruci said.

The Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program provided students from under-performing public schools – as defined by the Ohio Department of Education based on building state report card performance — the opportunity to attend participating private or parochial schools.

Under the new plan, which is a compromise that is less detrimental to public schools, schools in the bottom 20% of the state performance index rankings and schools in a district with 20% or more low-income students are eligible.

Scruci said he could not speculate why more parents decided this year to utilize the program. He said that the district’s decision to start the school year with remote learning could be one of the reasons.

With the withdrawal of Kenwood Elementary’s EdChoice designation in March, those students can return to Bowling Green in the fall or families can stay where they are and continue to receive tuition assistance.

If a student currently using an EdChoice voucher stays in their chosen school, they can continue to collect the state scholarship.

If they choose to return, even for one day, they can’t go back, Scruci said.

“If they stay, the money we would get for those kids goes to that school,” he said.

In November 2019, Crim Elementary was designated by the Ohio Department of Education as an EdChoice school, as were Lake High School, Lake Middle School, Northwood Elementary and Northwood High School.

When the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020, legislators paused the addition of these schools to the program while the state redistributed state dollars.

Kenwood Elementary was added during the 2019-20 school year and remained.

Nearly 40 superintendents, treasurers and school board members met in Port Clinton in January 2020 to express their discontent about how EdChoice was funded.

School districts that got between $2,300 and $3,500 per student lost over $4,500 for every student who took advantage of an EdChoice scholarship.

The program provided students from under-performing public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools. Students must first be accepted into the parochial or private school before applying for a scholarship. The annual EdChoice scholarship amount is $4,650 for grades K-8 and $6,000 for grades 9-12 and pays for tuition only.

The list of public schools qualifying for EdChoice vouchers would have ballooned to about 1,200 schools this academic year, based on the state report cards which the state used to determine a school’s success.

The amount of eligible schools was frozen at 517 in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on the state budget.

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