School Funding Proposal Coming Soon


Kasich Set to Unveil School Funding Plan by Month’s End, ‘Empowers Districts’

Gov. John Kasich told reporters after a ceremonial signing of 129-HB555 (Stebelton-Butler) that he’ll be introducing his new school funding plan by the end of the month -- in advance of the unveiling of his FY14-15 budget and his State of the State address. 

The governor, who has been hinting at what form his plan may take on in previous weeks, told reporters that he will first introduce the plan to superintendents from around the state, and then will hold town meetings around the state to introduce it to the public. He added, “You’re going to have to put on your thinking caps because it’s complicated.”

While he said it isn’t completely finished, he said “it’s close,” adding that he is amazed more of it has not leaked out yet. That can be a good thing, he said, because it is complex enough that leaks will introduce it to the public “piecemeal.”

“It’s more than just the dollars,” he said. “There are things connected to it that are different than how we traditionally do it other than the print out to see who wins and who loses.”

One thing he did reveal about the plan is that it will address teacher bonuses. In response to a question from a reporter about bonuses, Kasich said he is a big believer in the concept, adding, “We think we have a way in our proposal that would allow school districts to design [bonus] programs.”

“I’m a big believer that you can pay people more who do excellent jobs. I would rather it come from the bottom up because if we can come from the bottom up then we get agreement within the districts with the school board, the teachers and everybody else. But it’s absolutely something I think makes a lot of sense,” he said. “There will be some things in that bill that will, I believe, empower a local district to make decisions like that.”

Kasich made the comments after a ceremonial signing ceremony on a bill he officially put his signature on a few days before Christmas. The ceremony was held at Hamilton Elementary School, where Hamilton Local School District Superintendent Christopher Lester said it was the first time a sitting governor held an event in the district. 

The governor was joined by Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Hamilton Township High School teacher Carole Morbitzer, who was named 2013 Ohio Teacher of the Year. (See The Hannah Report, 10/5/12.)

Mentioned frequently by Kasich and the speakers is the bill’s addition of an A-F grading scale. Morbitzer said that scale will allow parents and school districts to see beyond technical terms and begin seeing what those terms really mean. 

Added Judy Blackburn, a parent with a child in the district, on the previous grading scale for district, “Those ratings sound great or could be a cause for concern depending on how you hear them.” 

Lehner said the bill gives the ability to not just look at the overall grade but to look at different components on how schools are doing. 

Kasich painted the bill as a piece of an overall reform effort that should be taken as a bundle along with his third grade reading guarantee and other initiatives. He also told the audience about his coming funding formula, saying it is going to be more comprehensive than just saying how money will be distributed. He said the new A-F grading scale will allow teachers as a part of a team to figure out their school’s weaknesses, and brings clarity to parents. 

When asked after the signing if he would be willing to allow pluses and minuses to the grade, Kasich said that while nothing is locked in stone, if they start adding “B-minuses” and things like extra credit, it goes back to a confusing grading scale. 

“I’d have to hear a compelling case,” he said, but added that anything can be changed if it will make it better. 
He also denied a report that he won’t reappoint former Ohio State quarterback Stanley Jackson to the State Board of Education. He said there are those who believe Jackson brings new things to the table, and said the appointment has not been decided.

Kasich also said he plans to talk with auto manufacturers about workforce training and cooperating with schools on his trip to Detroit on Tuesday. He said companies know Ohio has become business friendly, and he wants to see if there are other things he can do to help those companies advance.


Story originally published in The Hannah Report on January 14, 2013.  Copyright 2013 Hannah News Service, Inc.