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School Districts From Ohio's Largest Cities Calling For Decisions On Funding, Operations

Andy Chow

Most schools say they plan to restart learning in two months but a coalition of school administrators and teachers from the state's largest city school districts say they're waiting on a slew of decisions from Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Education ranging from funding to operations.

The Ohio 8 Coalition is asking DeWine to bypass what they describe as the non-binding guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education related to the $330 million marked for the state from the federal CARES Act. The Ohio 8 includes Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown.

School administrators and teachers from the Ohio 8 say the federal guidelines would reduce the coronavirus recovery funding for their schools by $10 million and direct that money to private schools. But they argue DeWine can have final say on where that money goes.

The Ohio 8 also say DeWine will have $400 million in discretionary funds that they want devoted to strengthening broadband accessibility around the state.

Meanwhile, school districts are creating plans to prepare for the new school year while waiting on what the minimum standards will be for social distancing and other health measures. These could include possible changes to classroom sizes, and school bus rider ratios.

David James, Akron Public Schools superintendent, acknowledges how expansive these decisions can be but adds that there is a sense of urgency.

"There is a long time in terms of what can happen over the summer. There is a short time in terms of planning for how we start school," says James.

The school leaders say health guidelines and funding go hand-in-hand such as the cost of requiring face masks and taking temperatures.

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