Week in Review > Week In Review 8-4-23

Posted by on September 04th, 2023


A finding for recovery of $543,478 was issued recently against the former superintendent of a Cincinnati charter school, who was convicted earlier this year after a janitorial business he controlled was improperly contracted to provide services to the school, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced. Roger T. Conners pleaded guilty in March 2023 to a felony count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract and was sentenced in April 2023 to five years of community control, fined $1,000, and barred from holding any fiduciary position or having a government contract for five years.


Ohio schools have until Friday, Sept. 15 to submit funding requests for a share of state budget funding meant for installing dispensers of free menstrual products for students. The budget bill included a requirement that schools provide free menstrual products for female students in grades 6-12, with discretion for providing them to younger children as well. The new requirement to provide free products takes effect Tuesday, Oct. 3. Lawmakers included $5 million in HB33 (Edwards) to support schools’ ability to provide free products — $2 million for dispensers and $3 million for the products themselves. Reimbursement requests for the products will be accepted in the spring, according to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). ODE is taking funding requests for dispensers at https://tinyurl.com/54kjdtrz, where the agency has also posted a spreadsheet of estimated amounts schools will receive, based on a per-dispenser cost of $300. Estimates are based on the number of female students grades 6-12 and the number of buildings. According to ODE, Ohio schools had more than 476,000 female students in grades 6-12 in the prior school year.

The final version of the FY24-25 budget contained several proposals from Gov. Mike DeWine regarding the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department, particularly concerning administration of the Ohio Cyber Reserve (OhCR). The OhCR is a group of civilian cybersecurity professionals created under 133-SB52 (Gavarone) to help respond to cyber incidents and provide educational support. It currently has 122 members and is led by Program Manager Craig Baker, a retired Ohio Army National Guard colonel. The proposals included clarification of the department’s authority “to provide training to current and potential members of the Ohio Cyber Reserve, set rates of pay, and pay the reserve’s expenses,” according to the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) comparison document.


The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reminded Ohio parents about resources to find child care options as the school year starts, while also noting financial assistance is provided to help eligible families with child care costs. The tool, available at http://childcaresearch.ohio.gov/, allows searching of available programs by provider type such as home-based, a center or school-based; location; hours of operation; quality rating; accreditations and services provided. Map-based searching is also available. In addition to this tool, child care resource and referral agencies can assist parents and https://occrra.org/ provides locations for those agencies. Parents can apply at https://jfs.ohio.gov/child-care. County job and family services agencies can assist with applying for PFCC, with locations listed at https://jfs.ohio.gov/about/local-agencies-directory.


The Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) voted unanimously Friday to reject the Youngstown City School District’s claim that the district’s teacher strike is unauthorized. The Youngstown Board of Education filed a request for an emergency meeting Wednesday, Aug. 23 to determine whether the strike by the Youngstown Education Association (YEA), the district’s teacher union, was unauthorized. SERB heard the case Friday morning and made its ruling later in the afternoon.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday a working group of experts to broadly examine how to make school buses safer for children, touched off by the recent death of a student when a minivan collided with a Northwestern Local Schools bus in Clark County. All topics, including the perennial issue of seat belts on buses, are on the table, the governor said. DeWine said he will ask the new working group to convene at least five hearings and report back to him and lawmakers by year’s end. He encouraged the public to follow the hearings and participate.

Spring testing showed “significant recovery” in student achievement overall, but with mixed results by school, sub-population and subject area, according to a new study from Ohio State University (OSU).

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) worked with OSU Glenn School researcher Vladimir Kogan on a preliminary summary for spring test performance. From the pandemic-era low point recorded in the spring of 2021 (tests were waived in spring of 2020), average English language arts (ELA) achievement rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, or nearly did so, for most grades. But in math, while student scores are recovering, overall achievement is significantly behind pre-pandemic levels in most grades, the study found.



University of Toledo researchers recently found that people with pre-existing conditions can have higher susceptibility to toxins such as pharmaceuticals, plastics and forever chemicals found in the soil, water and air. The study was funded by the Ohio Sea Grant. University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences associate professors David Kennedy and Steven Haller performed the study by using liver and kidney cells from biopsy samples donated by patients with and without diabetes to explore the issue. They are now working to find prevention, diagnosis and treatment options for exposure to the toxins, known as “emergent chemicals.”

Updates to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ahead of the 2024-2025 academic year will mean the form will not be available until an unspecified December date, rather than the typical Oct. 1 opening, the Ohio Department of Education advised schools. FSA plans to go back to an Oct. 1 start date in 2024 for the 2025-2026 academic year. The implementation timeline for the overhaul of the FAFSA is at https://tinyurl.com/2t76jr99 .

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding the use of race in making determinations for colleges admissions was unconstitutional, a Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) panel said Wednesday that they expect colleges and businesses to continue to try to find ways to make their populations more diverse, but will have to do it in a different way than before. The panel included Cynthia Turner, assistant dean and chief diversity officer at the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business; Margaret Finley, director of diversity, equity and inclusion and head of corporate affairs at Advanced Drainage system; and attorney Erin Butcher of the firm Bricker Graydon. Turner argued that affirmative action policies did their part, with minority populations increasing on college campuses since 1965. She also noted that nine states passed legislation restricting the use of affirmative action, and those states have seen a regression in those populations. Butcher said how effective affirmative action was in achieving its intended goals depends on who is asked. She said a number of universities argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that it had been effective in increasing the populations of Black and Hispanic students at their schools, but the Court had a different view, with the majority finding the practice was not legal.

Ohio Dominican University (ODU) received a $3 million challenge gift from an anonymous donor to support scholarships for students, marking the largest gift made to the university in its 112-year history.

During the 2022-23 academic year, 100 percent of ODU’s full-time undergraduate students received some form of financial aid. Each year, the university provides approximately $14 million in aid to students.


The test of qualified immunity for Ohio’s public employees came in for further review Wednesday — this time in a case before the Ohio Supreme Court. In a police dog-bite case, Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy said juries and not judges normally decide whether a government employee’s actions forfeit immunity by exceeding the “interests of state,” contrary to the decision of the 7th District Court of Appeals.


Gov. Mike DeWine Monday announced the award of $90 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that will go to 37 regional projects aimed at strengthening mental health and addiction crisis services around the state. The grants will support adding more than 225 new residential beds for Ohioans in crisis; five behavioral health urgent care clinics; two new crisis intervention and observation units; six new mobile crisis service teams; four technology upgrade projects; and two crisis consultancy projects.


The Fordham Institute announced Thursday the hiring of Stephane Lavertu, an Ohio State University professor, as senior research fellow. Meanwhile, Chad Aldis is back at Fordham as vice president for Ohio policy. He was appointed to lead the Iowa Department of Education by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this year but returned to Ohio for family reasons after a few months.


WalletHub recently looked at teen drivers, ranking Ohio 41st, or the 10th worst state, putting it behind all neighboring states. WalletHub listed three subrankings, with Ohio 12th in Safety and 16th in Economic Environment but 48th in Driving Laws. That put it second among neighbors for Safety, third for Economic Environment and last for Driving Laws. In the report introduction, Wallethub noted that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among those age 16 to 19, which is also the age group with the highest risk of crashes. Motor vehicle crashes involving 13- to 19-year-olds result in around $40.7 billion in costs from medical expenses and work loss, and that does not take into account costs of auto maintenance, insurance premiums, possible traffic citations and other vehicular incidents. The report used 23 “key metrics” for its rankings.


The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation’s (BWC) Board of Directors approved a 1 percent reduction in next year’s public employer base rates Friday for government jurisdictions’ smallest cost savings from the state insurance fund in seven years, save for a net change of zero in the current policy year. Final premiums for 2023 have resulted in a 0.6 percent hike when BWC administrative costs are added in. However, instead of an increase in 2024, the good news is that reduced agency overhead will bump the 1 percent base-rate cut to an overall reduction of 3.9 percent for government employers. Translated, that means 3,800 public entities will pay the state $7.75 million less in premiums starting Jan. 1.

Leadership for BWC and Ohio Industrial Commission (OIC) Thursday remembered those who died at the agency’s Fallen Workers Memorial. The 13th annual ceremony honored 137 Ohio workers who died in 2022-2023 from injuries or illness attributable to the workplace. The memorial was held at BWC headquarters in Columbus and featured a recorded message from Gov. DeWine and speeches from bureau Administrator/CEO John Logue, BWC Board Chairman Chan Cochran, OIC Chairman Jim Hughes, President Tim Burga of Ohio AFL/CIO, and Executive Vice President Adam Sharp of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). BWC noted that this year’s ceremony honors workers whose death claims were approved since last year’s memorial, including 71 with dates of death within the last fiscal/policy year and 66 with dates of death within the past several policy years whose names were not include in previous memorials. All fallen workers for 2022 can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yc352fad.


Posted by on September 04th, 2023

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