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Pursuant to last week’s Ohio 8 Quarterly Meeting in Columbus, the Coalition held a Statewide Media Briefing on the state budget this past Monday. I have included the details, topics covered, and many of the media stories generated for your review as this continues to be a priority for our Urban districts.
THE OHIO 8 COALITION TO PROVIDE INSIGHT ON PROPOSED STATE BUDGET
What: Proposed state budget policy and funding priorities and decisions will continue to have significant financial and operational impacts on students, teachers, staff, and communities. The Ohio 8 Coalition will walk through the implications of proposed budget provisions outlined below:
1) Ohio’s 8 urban school districts say the state budget bill threatens to widen gap between rich and poor
2) Ohio 8 Coalition pushing legislature to tackle equitable school funding
3) Coalition Of Ohio’s Eight Largest Schools Wants State Lawmakers To Make Changes In Budget
Coalition Of Ohio’s Eight Largest Schools Wants State Lawmakers To Make Changes In Budget
By Jo Ingles • 9 minutes ago
Leaders of Ohio’s eight largest school districts are urging lawmakers working on reconciling the difference between House and Senate passed budgets to remember how the outcome will affect many students.
Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, is co-chair of the Ohio 8 coalition. He’s urging lawmakers to include the bipartisan school funding formula overhaul that the House included in its budget but Republican Senators scrapped in theirs.
“Placing the fair funding budget back into the budget would address or begin to address the ongoing constitutionality issue and address the needs of Ohio’s poorest children,” Gordon says.
In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ohio’s method of funding schools violated the state’s constitution but didn’t prescribe a way for lawmakers to fix that problem. The bipartisan school funding overhaul is believed by many to do that by reducing over-reliance on property taxes.
The Ohio 8 group also says lawmakers need to keep the Step Up to Quality preschool program, which the Senate’s budget cuts. Senators said the program was too bureaucratic and made it harder for operators to provide child care, thereby eliminating options for low-income parents who need those services for their kids.
Julie Sellers, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers and Ohio 8 Co-Chair, says new school transportation mandates in the budget limit the use of public transportation for students, something she says many say they prefer. And she says restrictions on how districts can use their own buses could lead to elimination of transportation for their high school students.
Gordon says the group also doesn’t like changes to who is allowed to sponsor charter schools. He says it would amount to a return to those days when Ohio was considered the “wild, wild west” of charter schools because virtually anyone could sponsor them for any reason.
Ohio 8 Coalition pushing legislature to tackle equitable school funding
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) —
The Ohio 8 Coalition is pushing the legislature to make sure they tackle equitable school funding in the budget.
In a Zoom news conference, Monday, superintendents and teacher union presidents from Ohio’s largest school districts say what’s on the table currently widens the gap of equity for all districts.
School leaders are also sending a message that federal Cares Act dollars for districts are helpful, but not a substitute for fixing the funding formula.
“It is a short-term fix to help us come out of the pandemic. To help us provide those resources that we typically could not afford to provide. Mental health, behavioral health, support systems in place for students as well as for staff,” said Dr. Elizabeth Lolli, Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools.
The Ohio 8 superintendents tell us in the senate’s current version of the education budget, the 25 wealthiest school districts in Ohio get the largest percentage increase.
Ohio’s 8 urban school districts say the state budget bill threatens to widen gap between rich and poor
Updated 1:23 PM; Today 1:23 PM
Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon pointed to a provision in the bill that would require districts to sell buildings to charter and other schools when building occupancy falls below 60%. (Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com)Kaytie Boomer | MLive.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 25 wealthiest Ohio public school districts would receive the largest percentage increase in funding under the Senate’s version of education funding reform in the two-year state operating budget, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon said.
“The 25 least wealthy districts in Ohio, including ours, received the smallest percentage of increase,” he said. “…From an equity and fairness perspective, we would still advocate for a fair funding formula.”
Gordon participated in a virtual news conference Monday morning with other members of the Ohio 8, an organization representing labor and management of Ohio’s eight urban school districts. As the Ohio House and Senate negotiate their differences in the budget bill ahead of a new fiscal year beginning July 1, public education advocates continue to call for the House version of the school funding overhaul to end up in the final bill.
The House’s version – the result of three years of negotiations among teacher unions, school administrators, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers – would provide $1.8 billion over six years for schools and ultimately, when fully phased in, offer a minimum of around $7,000 per student per year. The Senate version provides roughly $825 million more in just two years, with a $6,065 per student minimum. Each chamber offers more money for special ed and other programs.
The Senate plan only looks at property values to figure out how much a local district must raise before getting state aid. The House version looks at both property values and average incomes, which helps the Ohio 8 urban districts – since they are in communities that have high-valued property, yet residents who struggle with poverty.
Sen. Matt Dolan, a Chagrin Falls Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that ushered the budget through the chamber, has defended the Senate’s funding plan, saying it’s wrong to pass a bill that commits future legislatures to funding increases that they never voted on.
The Ohio 8 group also disagrees with a budget provision in the Senate’s version that requires districts to sell or lease their buildings to charter, STEM or college-preparatory boarding schools in the district’s boundaries if the facility has been used for direct academic instruction but less than 60% of the building is used for that purpose in the preceding school year. That provision would go into effect July 1.
“This is essentially evicting our schoolchildren out of our own buildings in order to give it to somebody else, for other schoolchildren,” he said. “They’re forcing us to move more children around our communities and there’s no similar provision that a charter school would have to use the whole space in the building.”
Gordon said the provision is also wrong because in many cases, local taxpayers voted for levies to raise the money to help districts pay to construct the buildings.
Reasons that buildings are sometimes not at 100% capacity include them being used for wraparound services, for specialized programming, early learning and after-school programming, Gordon said.
Gordon also criticized a ban in the Senate’s version of the budget on cities creating community broadband services. The Senate also stripped $190 million for broadband expansion that the House put into the budget.
Gordon called for budget negotiators to continue with the Step Up To Quality rating system for daycare centers that accept children who qualify for federally funded child care subsidies. Senate President Matt Huffman, in supporting the removal of the program as a requirement to accept kids with subsides, said the extra training, continuing education and paperwork made it too difficult for daycares to accept children on subsidies.
Gordon said the early investment pays off in the long run.
“We need to ensure that all 3- and 4-year-olds are accessing three-, four-, or five-star quality preschool,” Gordon said. “There are many, many studies in Ohio and across the nation about the benefits of early learning, preparing children for the first day of school and beyond.”
Julie Sellers, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, said the Senate’s version of the budget will ultimately create problems for Ohio’s children.
“I think that the Senate’s version is just going to be widening the gap of equity in all districts and children within our state,” she said.
Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union, said that the legislature has an opportunity that it can take.
“There seems to be a broad base of support from the people around the state to do something that makes sense, that is transparent, that they can understand, and that brings equity,” she said. “And it would be fantastic for (budget negotiators) to take a careful look at what’s being proposed, work toward that transparency, work toward making sure that whether you are in a wealthy suburban district or you are in an urban district or a rural district, and you are a parent, that your children have an equal opportunity to receive a quality education. I think that’s what we all want for our kids.”