From the Superintendent
July 2, 2013
On Sunday, I was honored to witness Governor Kasich sign into law the new two-year state budget, House Bill 59, which includes $1.5 billion in total new funds over the biennium for primary and secondary education to spur innovation and achievement in all schools around our state. Every child deserves a high-quality education regardless of where they live, their circumstances or their own unique learning traits. It is essential for helping them get good jobs in the future, reach their potential, and contribute to building the jobs-friendly climate that helps Ohio get back on track.
Ohio Department of Education staff members are working on materials that will provide you additional details on the provisions included in the budget bill but here are some highlights:
Straight A Fund: One of the most important elements of the new budget is the new $250 million Straight A Fund. The fund will provide one-time grants to school districts with the vision to take on ambitious new improvements that help improve achievement and increase operational efficiency. Savings generated can be retained by districts to use as they see fit, including to improve classroom instruction or make locally-generated property tax revenues go further.
More information about how your district can compete for these funds will be available in coming weeks.
Directing Dollars to the Classroom: In addition to funds based on a district’s property wealth and residents’ incomes, schools will receive additional funds according to the classroom needs of students. Ohio school districts will receive additional money for those students who qualify for one of the many areas of targeted investment where students come to school needing additional assistance. If that student leaves their original school, those funds will follow them to their new school.
Significant investments are made to meet the unique learning needs of all of our students including students with disabilities, English language learners, students struggling to read in grades K through 3, children in poverty, and gifted and talented students. A priority in this budget is increased funding to place our most at-risk children in quality early childhood education programs.
Transparency: The new funding plan will report funds used to meet student needs on a building-by-building basis and each principal will be provided with a calculation of the state funding. This will enable parents and principals to hold district administrators accountable.
New Education Choices: EdChoice vouchers will be expanded to incoming 2013-14 kindergarteners whose family income is below 200 percent of poverty. The application period for these children began today and will be accepted through July 31. For more information, go here. Also, EdChoice vouchers will be expanded beginning in 2016 for students in schools receiving failing grades on the state’s new report card measure addressing K-3 Literacy.
School Security Grant Program: $12 million was appropriated over the biennium for security upgrades around the state, including emergency communications systems. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will manage this grant program.
Preview of New Local Report Card Design
Ohio is changing the way it measures and rates the performance of schools and districts. The 2012-2013 report cards to be issued in late August will grade schools and districts on a mix of new and previously used items with an A-F letter-grade system.
Last week, we recorded a webinar that previews the design of the new Web-based, A-F report card. You can find a recording of the event and additional information here.
Federal Sequester Cuts Explained
Yesterday, we held a conference call with local treasurers and the news media to outline the impact of budget cuts approved by Congress and President Obama as part of the sequester. ODE is allocating a total of $19 million to minimize the impact of federal sequestration cuts on Ohio schools.
Overall, federally funded K-12 programs in Ohio are receiving a $65.7 million federal sequestration spending cut imposed by the federal government earlier this year. This equates to a 5.24 percent average reduction in federal support for all districts across 14 different programs. The substantial reallocation announced yesterday reduces the overall impact on Ohio to an average of 3.6 percent.
While school districts in Ohio have anticipated and planned for these federal reductions in funding, we felt it was important to do all we could to ease the impact and lessen the effect those cuts will have on schools and the students they serve.
We have created a new page on our website that provides extensive information about the sequester cuts and a recording of the call from yesterday. Find it here.
New e-Schools Approved
The Ohio Department Education announced Friday the approval of three new e-schools that will be opening for the 2013-14 school year. The three schools are Mosaica Online Academy of Ohio, Provost Academy of Ohio and Insight School of Ohio.
A total of seven schools applied and went thought the e-school application process designed to determine an applicant’s eligibility and capacity to develop and operate a high-quality e-school. Each applicant was rated based on the experience of the sponsor and operator as well as the academic performance of the sponsor’s schools and the operator’s schools. In addition to their rating, information pertaining to the sponsor’s and the operator’s experience in terms of statutory compliance was considered by the superintendent of public instruction in making final decisions as required by the General Assembly. For more information, go here.
Thank you for all you do all year long for Ohio’s boys and girls. I hope you have the chance to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday with family and friends.
Dr. Richard A. Ross
Superintendent of Public Instruction