Week in Review > Week in Review 3-11-24

Posted by on March 11th, 2024

AUDITOR OF STATE

Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office recently made Crestline Exempted Village Schools the sixth jurisdiction and only school district on its list of “unauditable” entities for lack of adequate records. Crestline has 90 days from Tuesday, Feb. 27 — when Faber’s office provided notification of unauditable status — to provide records needed to complete an audit or it becomes open to legal action.

FY24-25 BUDGET

State tax revenues ran nearly 2 percent ahead of expectations in February and are just about on target for the fiscal year so far, according to preliminary revenue data from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). Tax receipts reached $2.11 billion in February, $38.4 million or 1.2 percent over forecasts. The sales tax drove that trend, coming in $32 million or 3.5 percent ahead, yielding $954.2 million versus expectations of $922.2 million. The non-auto sales tax was ahead by $22.3 million or 2.8 percent, while the auto sales tax was up $9.6 million or 7.2 percent. Income taxes missed the mark by $14.8 million or 5 percent, bringing in $278.2 million versus expectations of $293 million. The Commercial Activity Tax was close to the target, yielding $524.1 million and missing expectations by just $2.4 million or 0.4 percent.

CORONAVIRUS/MONKEYPOX

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Mandy Cohen recently endorsed a recommendation for adults age 65 and older to receive an additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine. The agency said that acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease for older adults and currently available data on vaccine effectiveness. Senior citizens are “disproportionately impacted” by COVID-19, as over half of hospitalizations during October through December 2023 were people in that age group. The recommendation “allows older adults to receive an additional dose of this season’s COVID-19 vaccine to provide added protection,” Cohen said.

The CDC also recently updated its recommendations on how people can protect themselves and the community from respiratory viruses including COVID, flu and RSV. The updated guidance provides a “unified approach” to addressing those risks, according to the CDC, as there are now “far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19.” Cohen said that while progress has been made, “commonsense solutions” such as vaccination, treatment and staying home when sick are needed to protect against serious illness from respiratory viruses.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 3.73 million total cases, 150,599 hospitalizations, 15,767 ICU admissions and 43,772 Ohio resident deaths reported by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

EDUCATION

Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Monday announced the recipients of the Career Technical Education Equipment Grant Program, which they said will expand career technical education access to an additional 10,345 students across the state. The Career Technical Education Equipment Grant Program will provide 56 schools with grants totaling more than $67.7 million. Recipients will use the funding to purchase new equipment for career technical and compact schools across Ohio for various programs including engineering, manufacturing, health sciences, construction, and more. The second round of the Career Technical Education Equipment Grant will open later this spring. Schools interested in applying for the second round can visit www.Workforce.Ohio.gov/CTEEquipment.

The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) released an updated list of curricular and instructional material for reading aligned to new mandates for instruction established in the biennial budget, HB33 (Edwards). Gov. DeWine proposed and lawmakers enacted requirements for reading instruction to include approaches aligned to what’s referred to as the science of reading, generally a systematic effort to cover elements including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The budget included funding to help schools buy these materials and for teachers to be trained in the approved methods. The list is at https://tinyurl.com/bdcny2bb.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland), chair of the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee, has established a new review process for the governor’s appointees to boards of trustees at public universities, asking them to complete questionnaires that provide more information about their thoughts on higher education. The governor’s appointees are approved with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. Before being considered on the Senate floor, appointees to the boards of the state’s public universities and community and technical colleges must be considered by the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee. Committee Chair Cirino said he wanted more information about the appointees before approving them.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Mike Duffey has been a fixture on Capitol Square for decades, but he’s taking on a new role as chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). Duffey recently spoke with Hannah News about his background and the state of higher education in Ohio. As many universities face tough economic conditions and an at-times fraught political environment, Duffey said colleges remain “the dominant way people can get ahead. I think of it as that fundamental economic mobility — that talent pipeline – [that] helps Ohio compete and win against other states, [and] that produces economic prosperity. Overall, if we can raise median wages in the state because of education level, that reduces dependency on social services, and allows people to pursue their dreams,” Duffey said. “I really think that higher education is the crux of the American dream for most people.”

The Controlling Board Monday again approved the advanced disbursement of Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC)’s State Share of Instruction (SSI) payments as the school continues to work through financial difficulties. EGCC announced last month that it is pausing registration and enrollment for terms beyond the spring semester and cutting about 40 staff positions due to its financial condition. The school, which has locations in Steubenville and Youngstown, is currently undergoing “heightened cash monitoring” through the U.S. Department of Education. Monday’s Controlling Board item was the third such request by EGCC.

Notre Dame College (NDC) in South Euclid announced Thursday it will close at the end of the 2024 spring semester, citing long-standing financial challenges related to declining enrollment, a shrinking pool of college-aged students, rising costs and significant debt. “The Board of Trustees has worked tirelessly for years on multiple fronts to address long-standing issues. This includes refinancing debt, navigating a down market, strategically using federal and state COVID-19 relief funds to maintain our mission during the pandemic, launching a centennial fundraising campaign, pursuing two potential higher education partners for a possible merger or acquisition; and working closely with major donors and other stakeholders to raise additional revenue. These heroic efforts were not enough to close the financial gap in time to satisfy debt obligations and allow the school to continue to operate independently,” the board said in its announcement.

The Hiram College Board of Trustees has announced the selection of Robert E. Bohrer II as the 24th president of the private liberal arts college, which is located in Northeast Ohio. “We are delighted to have Dr. Bohrer serve as Hiram’s president,” said Robert Turner, chair of the Hiram College Board of Trustees. “He is an experienced educator and strong leader whose vision and judgment will serve Hiram well as we continue to fulfill the mission of the college, just as we have done since 1850.” The college will celebrate 175 years in 2025. Bohrer went to Hiram in 2022 to serve as the vice president of academic affairs and dean. Prior to that, he spent more than 20 years in faculty and administrative positions at Gettysburg College.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Opening the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board meeting Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced a new state resource aimed at helping connect those seeking a new career with the resources needed to achieve their career goals. The Ohio Career Navigator can be found at www.OhioMeansJobs.com. Husted said the tool is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) and the Ohio Business Roundtable’s Attainment Coalition. He said the Career Navigator will be a central location for career exploration resources. He said many agencies already have a variety of programs and tools to assist people exploring a career, but the new tool will bring all of those together “in a robust tool.”

Posted by on March 11th, 2024

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