Senate Bill 178 would have moved most of the oversight of education in Ohio away from the State Board of Education and into a newly created cabinet-level department under the Governor. Late Wednesday night, the Senate amended SB 178 into House Bill 151, which was originally intended to improve the state’s resident educator program and summative assessment. Harmful and unnecessary language to ban transgender girls from playing high school sports was also added to that bill by the House earlier this year. Early Thursday morning, in the final hours of the session, Ohio House members voted against concurring with the Senate’s Lame Duck changes. A new version of SB 178 will likely be reintroduced in the new year.
“OEA believes it is worth taking a hard look at how Ohio’s schools are governed and supported at the state level. However, collaboration is key,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “Stakeholders need to be at the table. The voices of Ohio’s educators need to be heard, valued and central to any change. That is how we will get the best results for Ohio’s students.”
OEA appreciates the work of legislators in the 134th General Assembly who adopted educator’s recommendations on Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA), the funding component that supports economically disadvantaged students, resulting in an increase of approximately $56 million in additional state funding in FY ‘23. Additionally, lawmakers increased allocations of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for our public schools and provided an additional $112 million in federal funds for school building security and safety grants.
OEA remains hopeful that the next General Assembly will once again take up the cause of ending mandatory retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, after the Senate failed to act on the House-passed House Bill 497 this session.
OEA also looks forward to collaborating with Ohio’s elected leaders to ensure the Fair School Funding Plan is fully implemented in the new state budget. That plan, which represents the first constitutional school funding system in the state in decades, was adopted in the last budget but only funded through the end of this biennium.
“Certainly, there is more work to be done, especially around issues like addressing growing educator shortages and supporting student and educator mental health and wellness,” DiMauro said, “but OEA is proud of what our members have been able to accomplish through their diligent advocacy work this session. We all look forward to working collaboratively with members of the 135th General Assembly to ensure their important public education priorities are front and center as new legislation is introduced.”