Week in Review > Week in Review 6-17-2022Posted by Buckeye Association of School Administrators on June 17th, 2022
FY23-24 CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS
Gov. Mike DeWine signed the $3.5 billion capital budget bill on Tuesday, telling reporters it’s unlike any capital budget he’s aware of in Ohio history. The language of HB687 (Oelslager) allows the DeWine administration to transfer up to $1.5 billion from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to bond funds during the FY23-24 biennium to support capital appropriations. It also permits the director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) to transfer more cash unless disapproved by either the speaker of the House or president of the Senate. “We have the option of going back to the Legislature for permission to spend the rest in cash. It is very possible that we will do that … and it’s possible that this entire budget will be paid for in cash,” DeWine said. “If we pay cash for all of this, I am told by our budget team that we will save the taxpayers of the state of Ohio up to $1.6 billion in interest in the coming years.”
The pre-summer break frenzy of legislative activity brought new K-12 policies into law or saw them advance toward enactment, although the relatively few working days left for the General Assembly yet this year will make it more difficult for proposals still pending to cross the finish line. The bulk of education policymaking came via HB583 (Jones-Bird), a bill introduced to address substitute teacher shortages but eventually converted into a catchall for other proposals – tutoring, vouchers, school funding cleanup, dyslexia support and others.
Legislation significantly reducing the number of hours required for educators to carry firearms in schools was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday. Under HB99 (Hall), educators authorized by their local school board to carry guns on campus will now only be required to undergo 24 hours of training, down from the 737 hours of police officer training currently needed under Ohio law, as interpreted by the Ohio Supreme Court. During a press conference at the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) office in Columbus, DeWine said requirements that an armed educator receive more than 700 hours of police training or have at least 20 years of experience as a police officer are “unrealistic” for schools seeking to arm their teachers and staff. Asked if he thought HB99 was something the crowd chanting “do something” was asking for in Dayton after the Oregon District mass shooting, DeWine said he didn’t know.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton during the Oregon District mass shooting that left nine dead and many more injured, told reporters during a separate news conference that HB99 isn’t what advocates were seeking — it’s the opposite. “It’s a complete bastardization of what people in Dayton said, frankly,” she said. “This is not what the people of Dayton had in mind when they started chanting that. … It is sad that the politics have gotten to the point where they actually misuse people’s words in Dayton after everything the folks have been through to move forward on extreme efforts that the Fraternal Order of Police disagrees with and teachers are against. I thought they’d have the courage to do something, but the only thing they’ve done is something to make it worse.”
A State Board of Education (SBOE) committee voted Monday to recommend slightly increasing the test score students must achieve on third grade English tests to be promoted to fourth grade under Ohio’s reading guarantee law. The Performance and Impact Committee voted to increase the cut score from 683 to 685; the sub-score on the reading component of the test, which can also be used to qualify for promotion to fourth grade, would increase from 46 to 47.
Several SBOE members backed an effort Tuesday to hire second-place contender Larry Hook as state superintendent after Steve Dackin’s sudden resignation, but they fell short of the majority support needed to get the proposal on the board’s voting agenda.
Board President Charlotte McGuire, who was not at the board meeting, issued a statement later acknowledging Ohio Ethics Commission interest in Dackin’s role in the superintendent search process before his hiring. Dackin quit weeks after his hiring at the May board meeting, citing “revolving door” concerns. He had been coordinating the board’s search process for a new superintendent to replace Paolo DeMaria, but resigned his seat and position of board vice president shortly ahead of the application deadline to make a bid himself.
The SBOE Tuesday heard the latest update on how students are recovering from pandemic-induced learning losses. Data presented by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) showed that while students made substantial gains in the 2021-2022 school year, they have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The presentation was part of ODE’s ongoing “Data Insights” series, which was born out of the pandemic and shares state-level findings of internal analyses and studies by the department’s research partners. One of the largest improvements seen this school year was that the vast majority of districts were able to provide consistent five-day, in-person instruction. On any given week there have been fewer than 3 percent of districts not operating fully in-person since last September. The only exception came in mid-January when up to 9 percent of districts went remote or to a hybrid format. During the 2020-2021 school year, up to 62 percent of districts were remote or hybrid throughout the winter months.
The SBOE took an emergency vote Tuesday to give preschools more flexibility on student ratios in integrated classrooms that include both special education and general education students, responding to feedback from the field. The board’s Integrated Student Supports Committee had voted Monday to recommend changes to Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3301-51-11, a part of the operating standards for education of students with disabilities outlining preschool special education requirements.
Members of the SBOE Emerging Issues and Operational Standards heard an update on Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) Educational Savings Accounts during their monthly meeting this week. Sue Cosmo, director of the Office of Nonpublic Educational Options at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), explained the process parents follow to be enrolled in the program, which was established to address academic needs due to the pandemic, as well as how providers are listed in the marketplace. Through the program, low-income families can receive a $500 savings account for each child for the purchase of learning opportunities during the remainder of this school year and next year. As of June 9, Cosmo said the department has a total of $106,749 in approved claims and 6,129 families who have received awards. There are 505 service providers and there have been $46,051 in payments and reimbursements to parents and service providers.
The City Club of Cleveland hosted an interview session Wednesday with Betsy DeVos, who served as U.S. secretary of education under former President Donald Trump and has a new book out, Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child. City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop interviewed DeVos during the forum. Moulthrop started by asking DeVos to elaborate on the mantra of “education freedom.” DeVos said it’s “much broader” than the concept of school choice, entailing the ability of families to choose the best option for their children, not just at a different school building than where they are assigned but also the ability to customize learning experiences. She said the education system is very similar to what was created more than a century ago, and she’d tried to visit and highlight schools that did something substantially different during her tenure.
DeVos also declined to directly address an audience question asking if the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX that she’d adopted as education secretary would apply to the genital examinations included in legislation to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports that recently passed the Ohio House. She did express concern about having biological males compete in women’s sports, but said she wouldn’t delve into Ohio politics, deferring to Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who happened to be in attendance at the forum. As he’d done previously, Huffman criticized the House’s methods for moving the proposal — it was attached to another bill as a last-minute amendment late at night. He said Sen. Kristina Roegner’s (R-Hudson) related bill would move in the lame duck session, and he questioned the necessity of the examinations the questioner had mentioned. “I’m not sure why that’s in the bill, it’s completely unnecessary. All of these tests can be done with a simple DNA swab,” Huffman said.
The Ohio Supreme Court heard a classroom liability case Thursday that could have consequences for public school districts across the state. Justices will decide whether R.C. 2744.02(B)(4)’s “physical defect” exception to school immunity is limited to faulty, discrete objects or may include the absence of necessary equipment, including a science lab fire extinguisher that might have spared two Greenville City School children from being burned. The Court heard oral argument Thursday in Jane Doe 1, et al. v. Greenville City School, which details the “severe injuries” of two students when a bottle of isopropyl alcohol caught fire and exploded, forcing one to undergo a number of surgeries and skin grafts. They later alleged the science lab lacked a fire extinguisher required by code.
Bills signed by the governor over the week include the following:
– HB99 (Hall), which establishes the Ohio School Safety Crisis Center and the Ohio Mobile Training Team to develop a curriculum and provide instruction and training for individuals to convey deadly weapons and dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone, to expressly exempt such individuals from a peace officer basic training requirement, to require public notice if a board of education or school governing body authorizes persons to go armed in a school, and to make an appropriation.
– HB140 (Merrin), which enacts the “Ballot Uniformity and Transparency Act” to modify the form of election notices and ballot language for property tax levies.
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