Ohio Board of Education Opposes SB 34

Senate Bill 34 would generally require public and chartered nonpublic schools to open for instruction after Labor Day.

(Ohio) – In a joint statement (Ohio BOE, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Associations of School Business Officials) published late last month, officials announced their testimony opposing Senate Bill 34.

As it sat at the time the testimony was released, the bill requires all public schools and chartered nonpublic schools to open for instruction after Labor Day unless a district hosts a public hearing 30 days prior to adopting a resolution specifying its start date.

SB 34 presents itself as an additional state mandate that seeks to impose the will of the General Assembly on a matter that is more properly the authority of the locally elected boards of education and the staff of our schools,” representatives explained.

Testimony participants noted the requirement “interferes with the local flexibility boards of education require in meeting educational needs of students.”

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Scheduling was a highlighted concern by those in opposition to the bill. Officials explain it does not make adjustments to the state’s testing schedule which plays a major role in districts’ decisions about school calendars. Variations and preferences in scheduling school calendars are currently based on local factors, such as climate and weather factors, facility features, as well as regional labor and industry needs. In addition, school calendars are most often based on direct input from parents, community members, and teachers.

Ohio law currently establishes the minimum number of required hours for the school year and continues to recommend a five-day week. “Delaying the start of school until after Labor Day can have the effect of extending the school year into mid-to-late June or compressing time available for other calendar events and schedules,” they explain in the testimony.

In addition, current Ohio law requires school boards to conduct a public hearing no later than 30 days prior to the adoption of the school calendar. This provides an opportunity for all to comment on their own schedule preferences and rationale. “Given current law and taking local factors into account, we believe this proposed bill is unnecessary and overly prescriptive. In addition, the threat of withholding state funds from traditional public schools, but not community schools STEM schools, college–preparatory boarding schools or chartered nonpublic schools is discriminatory and divisive.”

The testimony was published on June 27th. According to the General Assembly’s website, the bill remains in committee at this time.

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