The Senate Backslide – 6.4.21
This week the Ohio Senate Finance Committee took testimony on the senate’s plan for funding public education. It’s a step backwards! It only increases funding for public schools by $90 per student while vastly increasing what it is willing to spend on vouchers, charters, and even home schooling!
Jan Resseger’s blog breaks down this plan that undermines public education. (link here)
Want another way to register your support for the Fair School Funding Plan?
Here is a chance to come out of hibernation and raise your voice in support of the Fair School Funding Plan in person.
What: Fair School Funding Plan Press Alert #FairSchoolFundingPlan
When: June 9, 2021 – Program/Press conference begins 11:00AM
Where: Ohio Statehouse Lawn – 1 Capital Square
What to bring: Levy Yard signs, Mask, and Commitment to Fair School Funding
The message is simple: Public school funding is a partnership. Local communities can’t do it alone. It’s time for the Legislature to step up and pass the Fair School Funding Plan.
Bring your old levy sign so people know where you pay property taxes.
This event is sponsored by All in For Ohio Kids, a coalition of advocacy and education organizations committed to high quality public education for all. Here is their website: www.allinforohiokids.com .
The goal is to raise visibility of existing support for Fair School Funding. It is one more opportunity to keep pressure on lawmakers to make the right choice for Ohio’s Kids, communities and democracy.
Here’s the FB Event Page https://www.facebook.com/events/535397547811888
State Budget Headed to Conference Committee Next Week
Emailing senators and house members will be needed next week as the senate budget bill will be sent to the conference committee on June 10. We need to keep the pressure on the House to defend it’s plan – the Fair School Funding Plan.
May 17 through the Ohio Budget Passing, 2021
Weekly Action to Support Fair School Funding
Urgent action needed! Help push the Fair School Funding Plan across the finish line! We cannot let this moment pass without winning this fight for a strong system of public education.
After 24 years the Legislature has failed to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court’s DeRolph decision that mandates that the state provide adequate funds to public school districts, distributed in an equitable way so that all students have access to a high quality public education.
At last, there is a high quality solution! The Fair School Funding Plan is now part of HB110, the state budget that must be passed by June 30.
Join with public school advocates across the state to email your state senator and representative every Wednesday until the budget is approved on June 30. Just cut and paste our message (feel free to make it your own) into their email to let them know this is the solution, this is the moment, and public education not private education is fundamental for all of us. Then ask some of your friends to send a message too. The more voices the better.
We must be loud and relentless to sustain the positive momentum created when the House approved HB 110, and to overcome those who would rather privatize our public system than ensure that all children have the benefit of a public system that welcomes all and guarantees an engaging and robust education.
Share This Statement
I ask you as my representative to vote for the Fair School Funding Plan as part of the state budget, HB 110.
Our system of public education guarantees that any Ohio child can move to any village, town, city, or suburb and know there will be a place in an accessible public school that is required by law to protect that student’s rights and meet that student’s particular educational needs. Our state constitution and laws protect children’s rights in public schools, but their rights are not protected in private schools.
Our system of public education is unique among nations and an institution essential for our democracy. We must protect this legacy for our children and their children. The Ohio Constitution provides for a thorough and efficient system of public schools and does not provide for tax supported private school tuition vouchers or charter schools.
I ask you as my representative to pass the Fair School Funding Plan, as written, as part of the FY 2022-2023 state budget and, in so doing, ensure that Ohio’s public education system is adequately and equitably funded.
Background on Fair School Funding
The bi-partisan Fair School Funding Plan was designed by school practitioners and finance experts, and has undergone close scrutiny over more than three years. It improves the funding method by using the actual cost of educating a student as the basis for setting the amount of money that should be spent, and more carefully assesses the capacity of each community to pay for their share of that basic cost. These and other features help reduce reliance on local property taxes which are inherently inequitable, and ensure that no matter where a student attends school or what their needs are, their public school will have resources for a quality education.
Ohio has more than 610 school districts that vary widely in size, property wealth, enrollment and student needs. This plan has carefully accounted for that vast variety. It will make funding predictable and planning possible, and give students a chance, at last, for a 21st century education.
May 20, 2021 – Virtual Forum on Redistricting. Register (link)
Testimonies submitted by our endorsers and friends on Fair School Funding link
Simple Guide how to testify in committee meetings of the Ohio House or Senate
In Person Testimony: If attending a hearing you must submit a witness form at least 24 hours before the hearing. Here is a link to a fill-able PDF for the Ohio Senate Education Committee. (link). For other committees follow this link to the Ohio League of Women Voter’s Advocacy Page (link)
The Witness Form gets submitted to the office that committee’s chair. So, you may have to contact the chair’s office directly.
For May 2021, the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee, the chair is Andrew Brenner and the email contact for his Acting Lead legislative Aide, Aaron Riggins, is firstname.lastname@example.org
Written Testimony only: Written testimony should be submitted as an attachment to an email (in some well known format) to the office of the committee’s chair (like above). Make sure to state your name and who you represent (if anyone). For instance, in the body of the statement or in the title if you choose, you could state: My name is Mary Jones. I have grandchildren in the public schools and volunteer for the public school in my neighborhood.
Your testimony should make sure to note what bill you are addressing and your reasons for supporting or opposing its provisions.
Here (link) is an example of written testimony from Susie Kaeser to the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee in favor of keeping the Fair School Funding Plan in HB 110 in the state budget.
HB 305 for a Fair Funding Formula for Schools is in committee now (November 12, 2020). First step is to get educated about what it is and to be ready when advocacy is needed:
A Must Do: Pass Substitute HB 305 by December 15
School funding in Ohio is broken and unconstitutional. It fails to adequately fund public education, and it allows for vast inequality across communities. Local budgets are under constant attack from the cost of vouchers and charter school students.
Many communities are at a crisis point.
Lawmakers have spent the last three years crafting a remedy. Their proposal, a blueprint for investing state resources, is genuine, substantial, and enjoys unheard of bi-partisan support in both houses of the legislature.
It’s time to rally our energy behind the new proposal. Here are some features that will help many communities:
- The state’s basic aid per pupil will increase. It is based on a careful analysis of the actual cost of education.
- The state contribution to basic aid will increase. The formula for distributing state aid better reflects a community’s ability to fund its schools.
- Deduction funding for vouchers and charter schools will end. These options will be funded directly in the state budget and will stop gouging local budgets.
- Categorical aid, additional state investments to address special issues including the extra cost of educating children where there is concentrated poverty, will increase immediately.
- The state will assume more of the cost of transporting students, including those who do not attend a public school.
This is the first step of a two-step process to improve school funding. If approved, the budget process will determine the actual investment in the plan.
Legislative leaders need to hear from us. We want fair funding, an end to deduction funding, and a bigger investment in our districts. We need it now.
Follow these links to learn more?
We live in a virtual world right now, but there i still advocacy work to be done.
BRAVO to the Cleveland Heights – University Heights City Schools Board of Education for passing THIS resolution to pursue litigation against the state of Ohio for their mishandling of EdChoice Vouchers resulting in the loss of district funds.
April 27, 2020 Please read this report by Susie Kaeser on the Impact of Vouchers on Educational Opportunities. (pdf)
February 10, 2020 Forum: School Funding in Ohio: The Possibilities and Challenges of Creating a Solution with Bill Phillis and Rep. John Patterson. FLYER LINK for more info.
VOUCHER SLIDESHOW TOOLKIT
-Narration only for slideshow (PDF)
-Slides and narration (PDF)
-More Info – Handout for slideshow (PDF)
-Video of slideshow with commentary (Youtube) (updated Jan 9, 2020)
SHORT-TERM VOUCHER FIXES (or this content as a PDF)
A common repeated message goes a long way when trying to get members of the legislature to listen.
Please call members of the Ohio Senate and Ohio House Leadership and Education Committee members with this message for short-term fixes to Voucher Funding.
1. Remove budget language from House Bill 166 expanding vouchers in grades 7-8 and for high schools. Restore voucher language to pre-budget language.
Rationale: The budget expansion places a financial burden on traditional public school districts and was not fully vetted during the Senate or House budget process
2. Limit report card look back to 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and direct ODE to recalculate the buildings eligible for vouchers based on the new look back language.
Rationale: The State should not make judgements about a building’s performance based on six or seven (2013-2014) year old data. The safe harbor provided schools the ability to catch up with the rapid changes made by the legislature seven years ago when testing and cut scores rapidly changed. Using recent data is a more accurate reflection of what is happening in schools even with a flawed report card. Nearly half of the 2020-2021buildings received an overall grade of A, B or C on their current state report card.
3. Make the default for vouchers the Expansion (income) vouchers instead of the EdChoice voucher.
Rationale: Making EdChoice the default for new vouchers has placed a heavy financial burden on traditional school districts. Since the state has frozen the foundation funding for the biennium, then it should not deduct funding from schools to pay for private education of students who never attended their districts. The deducts are making it harder to educate the students who attend public schools. Student Wellness funds are not a substitute for vouchers according to HB 166 language.
4. Restore funding for school districts that have lost funds to voucher students who were not part of their 2019 Average Daily Enrollment.
Rationale: School districts have used millions of dollars of local funds to send students to private schools. Current law is not sustainable. It has negatively impacted education quality and the financial stability of hundreds of school districts. Current law will create the need for additional local levies and overburden local tax payers where they pass.
5. Cap the loss of funds for high poverty (50% economically disadvantage) districts at 5% and other school districts at 10%.
Rationale: These options protect school districts from additional harm if the previous amendment, to restore funding, isn’t fully implemented, or the EdChoice numbers continue to increase during the funding freeze.
Speaker of the House:
Larry Householder Phone
President of the Senate:
Senate Finance Chair:
House Finance Chair:
|HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE:||SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE:|
|Don Jones – Chair Susan Manchester – Vice Chair Phillip M Robinson Jr. Sara Carruthers Erica C. Crawley Robert R. Cupp Catherine D. Ingram J. Kyle Koehler Gayle Manning Joseph A. Miller III John Patterson Bill Roemer J. Todd Smith Lisa A. Sobecki Jason Stephens Fred Strahorn||Peggy Lehner – Chair Andrew O. Brenner – Vice-Chair Teresa Fedor Louis Blessing III William Coley, II Theresa Gavarone Matt Huffman Stephen A. Huffman Tina Maharath Nathan H. Manning Vernon Sykes|
For more information about actions and the work of the Heights Coalition For Public Education go to: https://chuh.net/wordpress-4.8.1 and endorse our position.
From our 11.13.19 Action Alert:
The deduction method of funding vouchers is draining essential state aid out of local district budgets. House Bill 166, the budget bill for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 caps school funding at 2019 level, many school districts are suffering from the increasing number of students seeking vouchers who didn’t attend their schools in 2019. Many school districts are losing state aid and subsidizing with local funds, hurting the students who remain in public schools. This action will force school districts to the ballot and supplant the lost funds with Student Wellness and Success Funds, weakening the effectiveness of that program and undermining the intent of the Wellness funds
We need you to call Senate and House Leadership along with the Senate and House Finance Chairs and tell them that public education can’t continue to take the hit. A last-minute amendment to the budget bill, HB 166, has created the problem many school districts are facing. School districts can’t wait until the next budget to fix the problem.
Please call or email these legislative leaders and tell them today:
We want the legislature to prevent schools from losing more than 10 percent of their state aid and 5 percent of their state aid for the district with 50 % or more economically disadvantaged students. We also want the legislature to create a separate line item for deducts for vouchers and other deducts.
Speaker of the House:
Larry Householder Phone
Email Representative Householder
President of the Senate:
Email Senator Obhof
Senate Finance Chair:
Email Senator Dolan
House Finance Chair:
Email Representative Oelslager
Vouchers are undermining school district finances and public school student opportunities. Vouchers should not upend local district funding, especially in high poverty districts. We want financial help for districts that carry a heavy burden. We want a fair system.
FIRST STEERING MEETING: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at The Coventry Peave Campus, 2843 Washington Blvd at 7 PM All welcome.
From our email 9.19.19
Ohio Coalition For Equity and Adequacy
Our friends in advocacy at Ohio E&A hit the nail on the head
surrounding current Takeover Makeovers at the state house. Use this
helpful info to call or email key members of the Senate Education
Committee. So few people actually make calls that YOURS is important
Sen Peggy Lehner (614) 466-4538 Email Senator Lehner
Senator Teresa Fedor (614) 466-5204 Email Senator Fedor
Senator Lou Terhar (614) 466-8068 Email Senator Terhar
See the whole committee: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committees/education
HB 70 makeover of state takeover bill (Substitute HB 154) of 95 pages is crammed with bureaucracy and busy work and a robust appropriation for “experts”
Some pertinent provisions of Substitute HB 154:
· The school transformation board
· Ohio Department of Education required to create an approved list of experts or organizations
· Districts may enter into a contract with an expert or organization (partially state funded)
o *experts can be hired without competitive bidding
· Mandatory community stakeholders group
· School improvement committee
o School improvement committee may enter into a contract with a school improvement expert
o Shall appoint a director (under HB 70 a CEO) who has HB 70 powers
o The board of education does not hire the director (CEO)
o Director may reconstitute the school district
If it walks like a duck…it probably is one.
The Senate production of Substitute HB 154 is a rehash of HB 70
with the addition of an appropriation to hire experts. What boards,
superintendents, principals and teachers in struggling districts need
are resources, not highly compensated experts to tell them what they are
Substitute HB 154(link
to Ohio E&A’s opposition letter) is obviously a product of some
think tank type of experts far removed from the reality of classrooms.
The appropriation connected with it is a cash cow for a herd of experts that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Consider signing up for the Ohio E&A newsletter at: http://ohiocoalition.org/ they are the good guys.
INFO BEFORE ADVOCACY:
August 26, 2019
The Heights Coalition has important work to do. We look forward to your help as we challenge policies that undercut our precious democratic institution: Public Education.
What the Legislature did during summer break to expand vouchers and punish public education.
It took until late June for the Ohio Legislature to adopt a budget. When they finally did, vouchers won big and public education lost.
Four policy changes significantly expand access to vouchers and shrink public funds for public schools:
- Prior enrollment in a public school is no longer a condition for high school students to claim an EdChoice Voucher.
- Prior enrollment in a public school is no longer a condition for any student to claim an EdChoice Expansion Voucher.
- The cap on EdChoice Vouchers is no longer fixed at 60,000. When 90% of vouchers are claimed, the cap must be raised by 5%. Growth is now guaranteed.
- The phase-in of EdChoice Expansion vouchers just jumped from one grade a year to all grades starting this school year.
Ohio now openly funds religious education. The changes ended any pretense that vouchers are needed to make it possible for children to “escape failing public schools” since there is no longer a requirement that a student attend a public school prior to applying for a voucher!
Since EdChoice, Peterson, and Autism vouchers are funded by a deduction from state aid to local school districts, any growth in the use of vouchers means public school children will receive less state aid.
The legislature added some funds for wraparound services that will help school districts serve their students, but they did not solve the dysfunctional funding formula. Most school districts will experience the same amount of state aid as they did last year. This means any growth in voucher use will come straight out of funds for public school students.
End of Safe Harbor Increases the Negative Impact of EdChoice Vouchers
For the last three school years, the State Department of Education suspended the use of state report cards to designate any new EdChoice schools. The number of EdChoice schools was stable at 218 schools in 39 districts. That temporary relief is over, and it has broken open the floodgates to increase demand for EdChoice vouchers.
This year, 465 schools in more than 160 Ohio districts are affected. Cleveland Heights High School is one of those newly designated schools.
Over the last 4 years the school has received a “C” on the state report card for graduation rate, although the graduation rate for the three years prior to safe harbor was lower. This older data, from students who are now 25 years old, was used to create this year’s designation of the high school as an EdChoice school.
And now, with the absence of any requirement that high school students need to have been public school students for a year prior to receiving a voucher, there has been a large, unanticipated bulge in voucher use by 9th through 12th graders, most of whom never attended Heights High or Heights schools.
With state aid capped at last year’s level, each of the 351+ new high school voucher users will take $6,000 of the state aid allocated to the district. It’s more than $2.1 million.
The legislature continues to make privatization the priority in how they distribute public education funds. Click here if you want a brief reminder about Edchoice and Edchoice Expansion voucher program.