Coalition Of Ohio's Eight Largest Schools Wants State Lawmakers To Make Changes In Budget
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.