Week in Review > Week in Review 06-25-2021

Posted by on June 25th, 2021


Superintendents and labor leaders from Ohio’s largest school districts made a final push Monday for lawmakers to choose the House school funding formula in settling their budget differences, while also pressing their positions on other key provisions. The Ohio 8 Coalition called a virtual press conference to highlight their top issues for the HB110 (Oelslager) Conference Committee. The organization is led by the superintendents, and teacher union presidents of Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown schools.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) reported substantial progress Thursday on House-Senate school funding negotiations as part of the budget conference process on HB110 (Oelslager) but said other issues will take longer. Huffman added he and Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) talked again directly Wednesday night, with school funding on the agenda. “I simply said I’d like for my folks and his folks to get together and try to resolve that, and I think they have. A lot of the devil there is in the drafting and details,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a resolution about that by the end of this evening or by tomorrow. There are some other outstanding issues that are circling which may prevent us from getting [the budget] done completely by Friday. I think we’ll probably be back next week,” he said. Cupp however, held out more hope for a Friday deal in comments after Thursday’s House session. “Overall there’s been a really good working relationship between the House and Senate conferees,” he said. “It’s been a spirt of ‘Let’s work together to get this done.’ And I think that’s a very refreshing sort of thing. I am hopeful that most of these issues will be resolved in a very positive way,” he said.


Gov. Mike DeWine Friday held a press conference at Thomas Worthington High School to encourage student athletes and their coaches to get vaccinated, but later told reporters that his administration won’t be issuing any state orders requiring it for students to participate in extracurricular activities this year. Instead DeWine, joined by coaches and students from the Columbus area, focused on the challenges of the previous year as schools and the state tried to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.


High performing school districts with diverse populations were invited to Friday’s meeting of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Task Force on Best Practice Models for Black Students to share with the group what’s working in their schools. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria reminded members that the purpose of the task force is to close achievement gaps, to identify academic best practice models, to create a grading rubric and self-assessment tool, and to examine the best ways to create expectations for students and systems.

Education legislation pending in the House would allow families to take a student’s share of state funding to their school of choice, a concept supporters call “the backpack bill.” Rep. Marilyn John (R-Shelby), joint sponsor of HB290 with Rep. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky), told Hannah News they’re awaiting the new funding formula likely to be developed in the final version of the budget bill before filling in details and determining how the bill could complement a new formula. For now, the bill is just a two-page, 19-line statement of intent to develop a system “that allows families to choose the option for all computed funding amounts associated with students’ education to follow them to the schools they attend.”

The Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee rolled out reforms to the school report card system Tuesday and reported out of committee on Wednesday. Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), chairman of the committee, said the changes included in a substitute bill for HB82 (Jones-Cross) represent a compromise between his SB145 and HB200 (Jones-Robinson), worked out with numerous organizations representing school management, teachers and business interests along with the Ohio Department of Education. Brenner said the bill uses the framework of a five-star rating system, including half-star increments, as proposed in SB145. Schools would receive an overall rating, although not until the 2022-2023 school year, as well as ratings on five components. A sixth component on career, college and military readiness would be reported but not graded for at least three years. The amended bill passed the full Senate later on Wednesday.

State law requiring basic peace officer training in order to be “armed while on duty” at schools applies to teachers and other non-security staff given authorization to carry concealed guns by local boards of education, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The ruling arises from a lawsuit filed by several parents in Butler County’s Madison Local Schools, whose local board passed a resolution authorizing staff to go armed in the wake of a shooting at the junior-senior high school.

Proponents of HB61 (Powell-Stoltzfus), which would prohibit trans-women from competing in women’s sports, told the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee Thursday that there are biological differences between men and women that result in competitive advantages in sports for men, and those differences are not mitigated through hormone treatments. The issue was later amended into SB187 (Antani) on the House floor.


A series of high-profile measures got intertwined and shifted among various bills this week as the House and Senate tried to secure key priorities and parry late-breaking amendments. Two federal COVID funding measures already enacted via their companion bills were converted wholesale to new purposes and passed out of the General Assembly’s finance committees Tuesday. The Senate Finance Committee passed legislation to use approximately $1.5 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act money to pay off Ohio’s unemployment compensation debt to the federal government. The committee amended HB168 (Fraizer-Loychik), originally a federal COVID relief measure for small businesses, fairs, child care providers and veterans homes, to strip its original language and insert the payoff plan. [That earlier language had been approved in HB168’s companion bill SB109 (Manning-Rulli).] The House Finance Committee followed suit, except that committee gutted SB111 (Blessing-Brenner), substituting the original funding for pandemic relief for schools with nearly $422 million in ARP funds for FY22 “for non-entitlement units of local governments” including “cities, villages and townships, on a population basis …” The original provisions of SB111 had already been passed in companion bill HB170 (Bird-Richardson) and signed into law by the governor. But on the House floor Thursday, Republicans amended SB111 to include a prohibition on employer mandates involving any vaccine not fully approved by the FDA. They also amended a Senate bill on college athletes’ name, image and likeness (NIL) rights, SB187 (Antani), to include a ban on transgender girls’ participation in girls’ sports. 

The Senate balked, putting the local government funding from SB111 into HB168, and amending HB29 (Wiggam), a veterans ID bill, to include the NIL legislation, as well as an attempted compromise on the Senate’s sports gambling bill, SB176 (Antani-Manning). House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) maintained Thursday the skepticism he expressed about a sports gambling deal earlier this week, calling it “an extremely high lift” and saying the House hasn’t yet had hearings on the measure. He said Reps. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) monitored Senate action on the bill and said the House has heard from interested parties who have raised concerns.

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