Vienna has an example in Cuyahoga

The Cuyahoga County Council this month is expected to approve County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s College Savings Account Program. The program would create a $100 college-savings account for every kindergartner who lives in Cuyahoga County.

Everybody in Vienna Township in Trumbull County should take note.

Vienna is sitting on an estate tax windfall equal to almost three times its annual budget. Helping families pay for college would be one of the best services possible for residents, a godsend for Mathews schools and one of the best ways possible to build the tax base through controlled residential and business growth.

Cuyahoga County plans to place about $1.5 million a year in a bank account. Sub accounts would have $100 for each of the 15,000 children entering kindergarten this fall.

Foundations and other philanthropists are expected to add money. Families can add money to their child’s account.

When the child is prepared to pursue higher education the money can be used for tuition, college-entrance tests, college applications, advanced placement exams, books, supplies and transportation. If unused by age 25, the money goes back to the county and any family contributions are returned.

A 12-member committee of educators, bankers, civic leaders and parents would oversee the program.

Vienna has $3.8 million from the late John Rebhan inheritance tax and a lot, lot fewer kindergartners than Cuyahoga County. It might be possible for Vienna to provide free college tuition at a local institution for all students entering kindergarten this fall and thereafter.

Some changes in state law might be necessary to remove legal roadblocks inhibiting a township from carrying out such a plan. But changing state law to accommodate local needs is common. Trumbull County Legislative Liaison Michael Verich, when a state representative years ago, convinced the General Assembly to pass a law that forgave a local school district’s state loan. Ohio passed a law written exclusively to allow the City of Warren to grant liquor licenses in its entertainment district.

It would take a lot of hard work by Vienna’s trustees and a reliable group of its citizens. They could start by contacting Cuyahoga County.