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Ohio teachers worry cost for state-mandated licenses will balloon under new bill

Rebecca Shasberger, center, and Lalia Mangione, left, regularly teach music in prisons.
Carrie Wise
Ideastream Public Media
Rebecca Shasberger, center, and Lalia Mangione, left, teach weekly music classes in prisons in Northeast Ohio.

A bill passed in the marathon session of the Ohio House and Senate Wednesday could result in teachers paying a lot more for their licenses.

It costs about $200 to renew a teaching license in Ohio, and teachers have to renew it every four years. But the state’s largest teachers union is worried a change made by the House to Senate Bill 117 could boost cost of those licenses by 75%. That change would have provided $4.66 million to the State Board of Education, the agency that deals with licensing.

Ohio Education Association president Scott DiMauro said it amounts to the Senate passing the buck onto teachers. And he said by not allocating those funds, two things could happen.

“You could see dramatic increases in teacher license fees at a time when we are still dealing with a teacher shortage, which is not good at all,” DiMauro said, “or you could see the State Board of Education dramatically cut staff. And what that means is, it slows down the entire licensure process.”

DiMauro noted many teachers have multiple licenses to teach various subjects, so the cost could be a serious burden for them.

“Educators in Ohio deserve dignity and respect for their work to support 90% of students attending Ohio’s public schools, rather than increased licensure fees that will continue to exacerbate Ohio’s growing school staffing crisis by creating one more obstacle to staying in this critically important profession,” DiMauro said.

The OEA is calling on Gov. Mike DeWine and a group of bipartisan lawmakers on the Ohio Controlling Board to fix the problem at its meeting July 8.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the Controlling Board can approve that expenditure, and it doesn’t need to come in the form of legislation. He said senators have concerns with the cost of teachers’ licenses and with the amount that was allocated by the House.

“I don't think the teachers fees that are charged, I think they're consistent, for example, with what Indiana charges teachers,” Huffman said.

K-12 education in Ohio has undergone a lot of recent changes. The two-year state budget passed last year took some power and funding away from the State Board of Education and put it with the newly renamed Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, now under the control of the governor’s office. Before that change the state school board, comprising 11 elected members and eight appointed ones, hired the state school superintendent and made decisions about curriculum and other key issues.

The change is being challenged in court but there are questions about how much the former agency can afford to do on the money it’s now being allocated.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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