On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, OEA President Scott DiMauro presented opponent testimony on Senate Bill 320 (Matt Huffman-Lima) to the Senate Education Committee. The bill would leave decisions on reopening schools for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year in the hands of local school district boards of education and would prohibit state officials from preventing reopening, ordering closings, or requiring school districts to adopt health safety measures and guidelines for addressing COVID-19.
In his testimony, President DiMauro stated, “OEA’s top priority remains the health and safety of our students, members, and the communities we serve. OEA believes that any decision on re-opening schools next year must be driven by guidance from public health officials. While OEA supports local control, we also support the authority of the Governor and public health officials to make decisions that are data-driven and scientifically-based to keep our students and educators safe.”
Click here to read the entire SB 320 testimony.
This week the Ohio General Assembly used HB 164 to pass a package of changes to education law. These education amendments are intended to address issues arising from the closure of school buildings due to the COVID-19 health crisis. HB 164 was passed with an emergency measure and is effective immediately when signed by Governor. The General Assembly previously passed a package of education law changes in HB 197 (effective March 27, 2020).
Many of the education amendments to HB 164 are also in SB 319, a bill that received hearings in Senate Education Committee this week. SB 319 is no longer under consideration. OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing testified in Senate Education Committee regarding the various education amendments under consideration. OEA committee testimony can be found here.
Furlough and Continuing Contract Proposals NOT Included in HB 164
OEA strongly opposed two provisions in SB 319 regarding school district furloughs and limits on continuing contracts for next school year. Those provisions were NOT included in HB 164.
OEA’s analysis of HB 164 can be found here.
The package of education amendments in HB 164 included:
On Thursday, May 29, 2020, the Ohio House passed House Bill 239 with strong, bipartisan support by a vote of 78-14. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Erica Crawley (D- Columbus) seeks to reduce the amount of time that students spend on tests required by the state and local school districts in effort to restore instructional time to the classroom. OEA strongly supports HB 239 and would like to thank the sponsors for their hard work on the legislation as well as all House members who supported the bill.
Prior to its passage, the bill was amended several times this week. In its final hearing before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, two amendments were added to the bill. One amendment reduced the number of state-required end-of-course exams by combining the assessments in American History and American Government into a single test. The second amendment exempts the 2020-2021 school year from the student retention requirement tied to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The bill was approved unanimously by the Committee. On the House floor, the bill was amended to make student participation in the ACT/SAT voluntary. However, the state will continue to offer a paid administration of the test for high school juniors who choose to take it.
As passed by the House, the bill now includes the following provisions:
House Bill 239 will now advance to the Ohio Senate. You can urge your State Senators to support this important legislation by clicking here.
[May 6, 2020] As school districts across Ohio face the prospective loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) calls on federal and state lawmakers to take urgently needed steps to provide relief so that Ohio’s students are not hurt.
“Parents and communities cannot count on being able to go back to work unless they can count on their kids going back to safe schools,” said OEA President Scott DiMauro. “It is going to be really hard to count on safe schools for our kids if we have massive cuts to education funding,” he said, adding that social distancing in classrooms and other safety measures will only be possible with adequate staffing to keep class sizes small.
“While we understand that state leaders have to make difficult choices, we have to make sure we are prioritizing education,” DiMauro said. “This is our future.”
DiMauro said the kids that are going to be most directly affected by budget cuts are the kids who are already suffering. “They’re the ones that don’t have technology access,” DiMauro said. “They’re the ones that come from communities that don’t have as many local resources to provide support to them.”
In order to make school districts whole for the remainder of the fiscal year, OEA is calling on state leaders to utilize funds from Ohio’s $2.7 billion rainy-day fund to preserve state funding that directly supports K-12 public education, the state share of instruction for public colleges and universities, and education services provided at adult and juvenile correctional institutions and County Boards of Developmental Disabilities. “As has been widely acknowledged, it is surely raining in Ohio now,” DiMauro said.
The OEA is also urging Congress to provide $175 billion in critical funding for the nation’s schools as part of the federal CARES Act for states and local communities.
“The federal government clearly has the ability to provide the resources that are needed right now,” DiMauro said. “It’s going to take those kinds of resources to make sure we don’t lose a generation of kids.”
OEA represents 122,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals who work in Ohio’s schools, colleges, and universities to help improve public education and the lives of Ohio’s children. OEA members provide professional services to benefit students, schools and the public in virtually every position needed to run Ohio’s schools.