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Ohio lawmakers consider action on graduation rules, bus safety and school funding

(Ohio) – Lawmakers in the state of Ohio are currently considering dozens of proposed laws related to Ohio schools.

Proposals range from graduation rules to teacher conduct and bus safety, but three items have been saturated with attention over the past month – state school funding for the next two years, graduation rules for 2022 and beyond, and state takeover of poorly graded schools.

Academic Distress Commission (ADC)

There are currently four bills on the table that focus on the state ‘taking over’ low-performing schools in an attempt to try and improve them.

House Bill 127 – Would stop the creation of new Academic Distress Commissions. Reports indicate there is broad support for passage.

House Bill 154 – Would dissolve existing ADCs and replace the current takeover system with a new approach of poverty-related services and community learning centers. A hearing was scheduled in the House Education Committee on Tuesday. Both OSBA and Ohio’s largest teachers union, the Ohio Education Association have expressed support of the bill.

Senate Bill 110 – Would make smaller tweaks with a focus to improve community input.

And reports indicate the Ohio Department of Education has their own report on ADC that is currently included ‘word for word’ in the state budget bill.

Graduation Rules

On Tuesday, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria testified before the Senate Education Committee. She proposed a new set of graduation requirements go into effect for the class of 2022.

Her proposal suggests that students would still be required to pass 20 credits and take state exams. The difference, however, is that they would have both test and non-test options to demonstrate skills in five areas – English, math, technology, other academic subjects and leadership/social development.

School Funding

Fair School Funding Plan – This was unveiled last week by Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson). It would increase the overall state funding by $700 million over the next two years. Generally, the plan has drawn approval from most, but concerns exist regarding how the details will be hashed out.

School Bus Safety

Currently, there are two proposed laws that focus on drivers who illegally pass stopped school busses.

House Bill 89 – This bill is sponsored by Niraj Antani (R-Miami Township). It would double the maximum fine for the violation to $1,000 and increase the maximum severity to a license suspension.

House Bill 83 – This bill would allow police to use camera footage from school buses to identify motorists who do not stop for school buses.

Both HB 3 and HB 89 are awaiting hearings before the Criminal Justice Committee.

Teacher Conduct

Senate Bill 34 – This proposal would create rules that school employees or applicants who found court-eligible for ‘intervention in lieu of conviction’ for specific sexual or abuse crimes be automatically denied licensure by the state of Ohio. These rules would also apply to those who had been adjudicated for those crimes while they were juveniles. The bill has seen several hearings in the Senate Education Committee.

Teacher Tax Credit

Senate Bill 26 – This proposal would allow Ohio teachers to deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses per year for training and classroom supplies.

School Vouchers

House Bill 122 – This bill, sponsored by State Rep. Kyle Koehler, would restructure the state’s private school voucher program and significantly expand eligibility. Families up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($100,400 for a family of four) would be eligible for state-paid vouchers to attend private schools. This would be regardless of the quality of their home public school.

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