The EdChoice saga continued this week with the launch of a packed hearing schedule for public comment on the issue but little sign the House and Senate are any closer to an agreement on how to address the pending expansion of voucher eligibility to several hundred more school buildings. The HB9 (D. Jones) Conference Committee scheduled nine hearings over a 10-day period from Tuesday, Feb. 11 through Thursday, Feb. 20, including Saturday and holiday meetings, drawing dozens of parents, local school officials and others in the first few gatherings. The bill includes the Senate's proposal to pare back the list of schools at which students are eligible for performance-based vouchers from a projected 1,200-plus to 425 in the coming school, but expanding eligibility for income-based vouchers up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Meanwhile, the Senate voted Wednesday to reject House amendments to SB89 (M. Huffman) that would end almost all future performance-based vouchers in favor of a system only based on income, with a 250 percent earnings threshold. Organizations representing local school administrators and boards of education held a press conference Tuesday to endorse the House proposal in SB89, which would also eliminate academic distress commissions now in control of East Cleveland, Lorain and Youngstown schools.
Public education leaders from across Ohio held a news conference Wednesday at the Statehouse to support the House-passed version of SB89 (M. Huffman), which would implement an almost completely income-based model for the EdChoice program, sunset controversial territory transfer provisions and remove three northeastern Ohio school districts from state control by dissolving academic distress commissions. They included the Ohio School Boards Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators.
At Monday morning's meeting of the State Board of Education (SBOE) Teaching, Leading and Learning Committee, members approved a "framework revision" of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES), which rates teachers' classroom performance and directs them to complete professional development measures. Required components of a full teacher evaluation will include a formal holistic observation followed by a conference; the teacher's completing a professional growth plan; walk throughs on specific areas identified for support; and a summative conference.
The newly reconfigured Dropout Prevention Recovery (DOPR) Schools Study Committee held its first meeting Wednesday. The State Board of Education (SBOE) must submit the committee's recommendations to the General Assembly by Friday, April 17 -- about nine weeks from now. Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria suggested the committee aim to submit its recommendations to SBOE for the April meeting (April 6-7).