Week in Review > Week in Review 12-17-2021Posted by Buckeye Association of School Administrators on December 17th, 2021
A committee of the State Board of Education held off Monday on a planned vote for rules to implement new educational savings accounts for afterschool programs, flagging the potential for fraud in the program and a lack of details on a related vendor contract. Lawmakers had used the biennial budget, HB110 (Oelslager), to set aside $125 million in federal COVID relief funding to enact the afterschool child enrichment (ACE) educational savings account program. Families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level can receive $500 per child per fiscal year of the biennium to cover the costs of tutoring, music lessons, day camps, museum admission or other eligible activities. The law directs the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to hire a vendor to administer the accounts and handle payments to vendors. The department got only one bid, from the company ClassWallet, ODE Chief Counsel Immy Singh told the board’s Emerging Issues and Operational Standards Committee.
Members of the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) Teaching, Leading and Learning (TLL) Committee raised concerns about their timeline for approving a soon-to-be-released guidebook on dyslexia education. 133-HB436 (Baldridge), signed into law at the beginning on 2021, created the Ohio Dyslexia Committee (ODC), which is charged with, among other items, creating a guidebook focused on the best practices and methods for screening and teaching children with dyslexia or children displaying dyslexic characteristics. The law also requires school districts and other public schools to administer annual dyslexia screenings, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, and phases in over three years dyslexia-related professional development requirements for public school teachers. A draft of ODC’s guidebook is set to be finished by the end of the year and is scheduled to be reviewed by the TLL in January followed by the full state board. ODE staff said public comment on the guidebook will open Monday, Jan. 3 and run through Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Attracting a good crop of quality candidates for the state superintendent position will likely require offering higher pay than initially expected, the State Board of Education’s Budget Committee determined Monday. Meanwhile, the board has a new group of executive search firms under review after an initial solicitation turned up just one bidder, who was deemed unqualified. In November, the committee’s discussions focused on a pay range of $200,000 to $240,000; former Superintendent Paolo DeMaria made $216,000 by comparison. But a review of data for pay of local school superintendents in Ohio, plus the recognition that many of them are getting substantial compensation beyond the base salary, led the committee to decide it should recommend $250,000 or more in base salary to the full board. That would be supplemented by a $6,000 car allowance — which DeMaria also received — and a state employee health care package, said Mike Toal, chair of the Budget Committee.
The State Board of Education’s Performance and Impact Committee Monday looked at how schools and districts might fare on the new report card system’s Achievement Component, which reflects student test performance. Shelby Robertson, director of the Office of Accountability at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), led the committee through a review of three report card components: Achievement; Graduation; and College Career, Workforce and Military Readiness. The bulk of the two-hour meeting focused on Achievement. Lawmakers had converted the A-F report card system to a 5-star rating system per HB82 (Cross-Jones). Robertson said the new law specifies each star rating is to signify the following:
5: Significantly exceeds state standards
4 and 4.5: Exceeds state standards
3 and 3.5: Meets state standards
2 and 2.5: Needs support to meet state standards
1 and 1.5: Needs significant support to meet state standards
The Controlling Board approved without objection a request from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to issue a number of contracts to perform studies required under 133-SB310 (Dolan), the capital appropriations bill. Rep. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland) asked ODE’s Aaron Rausch why it took over a year to get the contracts before the Controlling Board as the bill was passed in the last session. Rausch said ODE would have liked to have moved faster itself but has talked to the vendors who believe they can complete all of the work ahead of next December and before lawmakers start considering the FY24-25 biennial budget. He said ODE issued competitive bid requests for the contracts, though only one vendor applied for some of the contracts. He also noted that they are making sure to include educator input in the results of the studies. Sweeney said the sooner lawmakers have the information, the better, and asked if there are measures to ensure there won’t be any delays to the studies. Rausch said all three vendors have “pretty detailed” timelines and expectations on what will happen between now and next December to make sure the work is completed by then.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s office announced Tuesday that he signed SB229 (Blessing), a broad education bill offering flexibility in light of the pandemic and making various other changes. The bill includes an emergency clause, putting it into immediate effect. The initial purpose of the bill was to provide schools greater latitude in opting to implement a blended learning model of instruction, allowing them to declare their intent to use such a model for this school year by April 30, 2022 — originally it would have required them to declare use by July 1 of this year. The bill also sets parameters for schools operating blended learning models, requiring that they provide devices and Internet access to students, for example.
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