Given the short time line the Legislature is working under this year to get a biennial budget approved by July 1, the Ohio Senate will begin its hearings a couple of weeks before the House deadline of May 2 - 4 to pass its proposed version of the FY20-21 budget, HB166 (Oelslager). According to Ray DiRossi, director of finance and budget for the Senate Majority Caucus, hearings will begin in the full Senate Finance Committee the week of April 22 with the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), Legislative Service Commission (LSC), Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Higher Education to testify on Wednesday, April 24. That will be followed on Thursday, April 25 with testimony from the departments of Medicaid, job and family services, mental health and addiction services, and developmental disabilities. The Senate also released the agency assignments to each of the four committees/subcommittees that will be hearing the budget proposals.
Members of the State Board of Education re-stated their commitment Monday to a new graduation proposal built around a major student portfolio project, rebutting criticisms about lack of rigor from some business groups. Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) staff prompted those comments Monday in a presentation on agency guidance for capstone projects and community/work experience, two elements of an interim graduation framework that helped to inspire the board's longer term proposal.
The State Board of Education approved a pair of key resolutions Tuesday, one amending their policies and procedures manual to allow closed door conversations on certain items for deliberation, and another forming a workgroup to study the rules concerning Dropout Prevention and Recovery (DOPR)schools.
While the school funding plan put forward by Reps. Robert Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) has many positive provisions, it leaves many questions unanswered, Thomas B. Fordham Institute Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy Chad Aldis said Monday. After once again praising Gov. Mike DeWine's executive budget proposal, HB166 (Oelslager), Aldis told the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee that the Cupp-Patterson "Ohio Fair School Funding Plan" is on the right track by proposing to directly fund charter students although he did criticize the plan's provisions on transportation.
The state's educational service centers (ESCs), which currently receive $26 per pupil in operating subsidies, are asking for that funding to be increased to $42.52 over a four-year period. Speaking to the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on Monday on the proposed FY20-21 budget, HB166 (Oelslager), Ohio Education Service Center Association (OESCA) Executive Director Craig Burford told Co-Chair John Patterson (D-Jefferson) that the organization's plan calls for a roughly $4 per student increase per year.
Education organizations said Tuesday they don't think academic distress commission reforms belong in budget discussions, and the co-chairs of the House subcommittee reviewing that language said they're inclined to agree. The House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee heard comments in the morning about the executive proposal for changes to the commission structure during a broader hearing on the education budget, while the standing education committees of the House and Senate both took testimony on bills to change the law. In an evening meeting, the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee accepted substitute bills on HB127 (K. Smith-Hambley) and HB154 (Miller-Jones), both of which aim to address local districts' unhappiness with academic distress commissions while Tuesday morning, the Senate Education Committee heard proponent testimony on SB110 (Manning), aimed specifically at the Lorain City Schools.
The Cupp-Patterson school funding plan drew general support Tuesday in budget testimony but also critiques for its projected effects on a subset of poorer districts that will receive no new money. School funding expert Howard Fleeter, representing the Ohio Education Policy Institute, said 19 of the 71 districts projected to get no increases and remain on a funding guarantee under the Cupp-Patterson plan are among the state's poorest. Also, some other high-poverty districts are estimated to see increases below the state average.
Northern Ohio school districts facing big tax revenue losses from the devaluation of nuclear power plants asked lawmakers Wednesday to freeze the continuing phase out of their Tangible Personal Property Tax reimbursements to keep their budgets from sliding further. Perry Local Schools Treasurer Lew Galante and Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools Superintendent Guy Parmigian told the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee their districts have faced great challenges from the devaluation of the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants along Lake Erie, both of which are slated to be closed by First EnergySolutions. They asked the committee to support an executive budget proposal to freeze TPPT reimbursement phaseouts for the districts and ensure it extends beyond FY21.