Several Ohio education groups are calling for legislators to address state takeovers in the biennial budget.
The Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Ohio School Board Association, Ohio Superintendents’ Association and Buckeye Association of School Administrators sent statements to legislators on education priorities in the state budget. All of them urged members of the budget Conference Committee to put House-passed language dissolving academic distress commissions back in the bill.
The House-passed version of House Bill 166 included language from House Bill 154, introduced by Reps. Joe Miller, D-Amherst, and Don Jones, R-Freeport, that would have repealed and replaced the current law regarding the state takeover of failing school districts with wraparound support from the Ohio Department of Education and building-level improvement plans. Following lengthy Senate education and finance committee meetings — and a proposed amendment that would have changed the name of academic distress commissions and the CEO rather than return local control — all language on the issue was removed from the budget passed by the Senate last week.
“We request that you restore the House version of the bill that would enact HB 154,” a news release states. “These provisions provide a pathway for local districts and communities to determine the needs of their districts and develop an improvement plan that will meet the needs of students. The steps contained in the House version of the bill would go a long way toward improving outcomes for schools and most importantly the students they serve.”
The groups also addressed Student Wellness Fund provisions, voucher expansion and graduation requirements. The House-passed version of the bill had increased Student Wellness and Success Funding by $125 million over Gov. Mike DeWine’s initial proposal, but the Senate omnibus eliminated the increase, according to the groups’ news release. The money is used to address non-educational barriers for low-income students. They also opposed the Senate’s expansion of private school voucher programs in the state, noting such policy should be considered as its own bill.
The groups prefer the Senate’s version of school breakfast requirements, funding for growing school districts and tax-related provisions removed from the House-passed version.
The deadline for DeWine to sign the budget is Sunday. If legislators cannot come to an agreement during Conference Committee and academic distress commissions are not addressed in it, Sen. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, has said he plans to push forward with Senate Bill 110, a Lorain-specific law that would change the makeup of the district’s academic distress commission in favor of more local appointments.
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