The General Assembly this week sent several bills to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature, ranging from an overhaul of the Educational Choice (EdChoice) voucher program to an extension of the authority for boards of education to meet in a virtual format.
In just under 24 hours, lawmakers unveiled and passed an overhaul to the EdChoice voucher program without public debate, input, or notice. The plan, contained in Senate Bill (SB) 89, designates 473 buildings in 87 districts as EdChoice eligible and also increases to 250% from 200% the poverty threshold for the income-based expansion of the program. Buildings currently eligible under the fiscal year 2020 list of 517 buildings remain eligible for the 2021-22 school year. A copy of buildings now eligible under SB 89 can be accessed here.
Our three associations issued a joint press release on the legislature’s actions on EdChoice, a copy of which can be accessed here. The bill goes to Gov. DeWine for his signature.
Please contact the governor to express your displeasure with the plan and the process used to pass the bill. Click here for a copy of talking points. Click here to send an email, and call the governor at 614-466-3555.
Remote Meetings, Teacher and Administrator Evaluations, and More
Lawmakers passed House Bill (HB) 404, which extends until July 1, 2021, the temporary authorization for members of a public body, including a board of education, to hold and attend meetings or hearings via electronic technology. The bill contains an emergency clause and would take immediate effect. The current authority expires Dec. 1, 2020.
Also included in HB 404 are components of SB 358, which include:
- a provision exempting districts from penalties for not administering to a student the fall administration of any diagnostic assessment, kindergarten readiness assessment (KRA), or third-grade English language arts assessment if a student is quarantined, medically compromised, remote learning, or is subject to a stay-at-home order;
- an extension through the 2020-21 school year of the provisions from HB 197 and HB 164 with regard to teacher and administrator evaluations;
- a provision providing flexibility and exemptions regarding routine, state-required health screenings for kindergarten and first-grade students that must normally be completed annually by Nov. 1.
Click here for more information on HB 404.
HB 123 – Suicide Awareness and Violence Prevention
Lawmakers also approved HB 123, which requires public schools to implement certain programs on and provide instruction in suicide awareness and prevention and violence prevention. It also provides $2.5 million in payments to dropout prevention and recovery e-schools that meet certain standards.
Click here for more information on HB 123
With weeks remaining in the 133rd legislative session, lawmakers still have not yet addressed school-funding reform efforts from HB 305 or SB 376 or temporary pauses in state testing and state report cards from SB 358.
Please reach out to your legislators urging them to enact these important pieces of legislation.