Week in Review > Week in Review 03-25-2022

Posted by on March 25th, 2022

FY23-24 CAPITAL REAPPROPRIATIONS/APPROPRIATIONS

The capital reappropriations bill, HB597 (Oelslager), passed unanimously in the House after remarks by Reps. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) and Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland). Oelslager discussed how reappropriations were constitutionally necessary for previously approved projects to continue and talked about the effects of the pandemic on the projects’ schedule. The bill reflects that Ohio is in a “very strong fiscal position” and well below the Ohio Constitution’s 5 percent debt service limitation.

CORONAVIRUS

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday that Ohio and the U.S. appear to have put the most recent COVID-19 surge behind them, but the pandemic has a “real habit of throwing us curveballs” and so worldwide trends need to be monitored. As an example, he discussed the Omicron variant’s surge in Europe, largely driven by the subvariant BA.2. The two are related and hold similar severity, but BA.2 appears to be more contagious. Vanderhoff added that it is rare to see an infection of BA.2 after contracting the BA.1 subvariant that hit the U.S. first, which means natural immunity overlaps to the newer subvariant.

EDUCATION

Enrollment in Ohio K-12 schools is expected to decline for the next several years as a result of the pandemic, Senior Planning Manager for the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) Joe Macneil told the commission Thursday. Macneil explained how enrollment projections are formulated and what they mean for schools. He said the state uses them to determine how many students are likely to be at a school in five to 10 years’ time. That not only affects the size of a school but also the budget for it. Major inputs into this formula include factors like historical enrollment data, which are also used to determine the retention rate or cohort rate at a school, and the last 15 years of live births within the district.

A group of parents who use Ohio’s EdChoice scholarship to send their children to Catholic schools are the latest to seek official party status in the lawsuit from several school districts challenging the constitutionality of the voucher program. The districts filed suit early in the year, alleging EdChoice violates the constitutional mandate for lawmakers to provide a “common” school system, as well as the prohibition on giving control of education funds to religious groups.

Thursday marked a quarter century since the March 24, 1997 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in¬†DeRolph v. State, in which the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state was not fulfilling its constitutional duty to provide “a thorough and efficient system of common schools.” The Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, which spearheaded the litigation, observed the anniversary and likened the case to its new fight over the constitutionality of the EdChoice voucher program. William Phillis, head of the coalition,

Posted by on March 25th, 2022

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