MOUNT VERNON — The state finally has a biennial budget, and, as expected, some of the provisions will impact local school districts. The actual dollar amount for state aid to schools and other items has not yet been verified, but the Ohio School Boards Association, in conjunction with the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, has issued a summary of the budget bill’s items which relate to schools. Some of those items are listed below.
•School funding. The bill replaces the current funding foundation formula with the Ohio Evidence Based Model, some components of which will be phased in over 10 years. It makes obsolete parity aid, gap aid, poverty-based assistance and the local share of categoricals such as special education, transportation and career tech.
Under the funding plan, only five districts will receive a decrease in funds over the biennium, but another provision indicates the state guarantees school districts will receive 99 percent of the prior year’s funding in FY 2010 and 98 percent of the prior year’s funding in FY 2011. It also provides additional funding for gifted education, addresses phantom revenue, extends the replacement revenue for the loss of tangible personal property tax (inventory tax) to school districts and local government and eliminates school bus purchase funding.
•Education reform. The bill revises the pupil-teacher ratio for grades kindergarten through three. Over a six-year period the ratios must be reduced to 15 to 1 and districts must offer all-day kindergarten to all students beginning in 2011. Calamity days are reduced from five to three for the 2010-11 school year, and the Ohio Graduation Test is replaced with a nationally standardized college prep assessment such as the SAT.
•Academic standards. The State Board of Education must adopt new statewide academic standards at least once every five years, and must revise standards for core subject areas by June 30, 2010. The state board is required to revise standards and curricula for fine arts, foreign language and computer literacy and to create standards for a curricula for financial literacy. The new standards should emphasize skills needed for the 21st century, such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and technological literacy.
•School safety and wellness. The bill prohibits corporal punishment in schools, eliminates the requirement that students entering the seventh grade receive tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster vaccinations, and requires schools to establish policies to protect students with peanut or other food allergies. It also limits the authority to administer prescription drugs, beginning July 1, 2011, to school employees who are licensed health professionals or who have completed a drug administration program conducted by a licensed health professional.
Other parts of the bill deal with teacher licensure, professional development, collective bargaining and charter school and voucher programs.