Week in Review - 04/27/2018

Week in Review - 04/27/2018

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Ohio policymakers should move to "connect the entire state to high-speed Internet" as part of a larger strategy to invest more public dollars into Ohio's economy, according to a new position paper from left-leaning organizations Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) and Innovation Ohio (IO). "A Winning Economic Agenda for Ohio's Working Families," released on Tuesday, says nearly a million Ohioans -- mostly in rural areas -- currently lack access to broadband Internet services.


EDUCATION

The Ohio Department of Education heard last summer from a person who claimed to be a former Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) employee and shared allegations that the now-defunct online charter school data on student participation was "suspect."


Sharing bus maintenance duties would save neighboring Eastern Ohio school districts money, Auditor Dave Yost's office said in a study released Tuesday. The study was requested by schools in Belmont County and conducted under 131-HB5 (Kunze-Koehler), a law passed in 2016 allowing the auditor's office to do feasibility studies on sharing services and facilities among state and local government agencies.


Attorneys for Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) sparred Wednesday on the meaning of the word "final" and whether the online charter school was due an administrative appeal of the state's determination that it over-reported enrollment figures. Tenth District Court of Appeals Judges Susan Brown, Jennifer Brunner, and Betsy Luper Schuster presided over oral arguments in one of ECOT's multiple lawsuits against the state, this one arguing the State Board of Education's enrollment findings fall under the administrative appeal processes of Ohio Revised Code Chapter 119.


Legislation introduced Thursday would require the State Board of Education (SBOE) to include in-depth fetal development information in its health curriculum and compel the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to develop and distribute materials that "clearly and consistently state that abortion kills a living human being." Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) told Hannah News that his HB619 would require the SBOE, in conjunction with ODH, to create a model curriculum providing "scientifically verifiable information" regarding various gestational intervals. According to the bill, neither agency is allowed to consult with any organization that provides abortions when developing the program. The bill would appropriate $1 million over two years to develop the program and materials.


There are many areas of the country, especially in Ohio, that could support charter schools but may not have those options for students and their families, a new report from pro-school choice think tank, the Fordham Institute, shows. The report, "Charter School Deserts: High-Poverty Neighborhoods with Limited Educational Options," released Thursday and prepared by Miami University professor Andrew Saultz, examined areas around the country that could potentially benefit from education options other than traditional public schools.


ELECTIONS 2018

Secretary of State Jon Husted said Tuesday that 171,954 absentee ballots were requested by mail and in person for the Tuesday, May 8 primary election by the close of business Friday. Of the ballots requested, 63,253 have been cast. Husted said that at the same point in absentee voting in 2014, more than 155,000 absentee ballots had been requested, and over 73,000 ballots had already been cast.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

The unemployment rate continued its recent downward trend in March, inching down to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent in February, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The rate is down more than half a percent from the 5.1 percent seen in March 2017 but still above the current national rate of 4.1 percent.


HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

According to a recent study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants ate about the same number of calories as non-participants while spending less money on food than non-participants, but nutrition outcomes were worse for SNAP participants.