PRESERVING SCHOOL CHOICE •

FOR

OHIO STUDENTS

AND

PARENTS

Governor Strickland’s executive budget proposal sought to prevent new charter and community schools from opening in Ohio until 2009. o My colleagues and I eliminated this onerous provision. o Further, recognizing the importance of quality growth in community schools, members instituted a quality-based growth formula.  This formula maintains that in order for a new charter school to open in Ohio, it must be run by an operator that has a proven track record of success and is operating a school that is rated in Continuous Improvement or better. The governor’s budget also included a provision prohibiting for-profit management companies from operating schools in the state of Ohio. o Legislators felt that limiting the options for highly successful programs to locate and operate in Ohio would further limit the options available to Ohio students and parents.  This proposal was removed, opening Ohio’s doors to new options and learning environments.  Without this action, highly successful programs, such as the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) would have been unable to open a school in Columbus as planned. Further, Governor Strickland proposed reducing the per-pupil funding for students in Ohio e-schools. o The Ohio Legislature has worked d to provide funding and necessary policies for those students who may require more than is traditionally provided to them in a conventional classroom.  Members of the Legislature fully restored per-pupil funding levels for Ohio e-schools and provided funding levels for eschool students equal to per-pupil funding for students in traditional public schools. The Ohio Legislature has a strong record in strengthening Ohio’s community school laws – closing schools that don’t make the grade, instituting safeguards for growth and increasing standards for e-schools across the state – this commitment is continued. o After increasing academic standards for charter schools in the past, the House proposed to increase fiscal accountability for these schools by giving new powers to the auditor of state when performing audits of charter schools. Governor Strickland proposed the elimination of the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, an ambitious, statewide voucher program providing options for children continually underserved by failing schools – a move members of the Ohio Legislature simply would not allow to occur. o We worked to retain the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, which allows up to 14,000 students to attend a private school of their choice.

o The proposed elimination of this valuable program would have forced
parents to send their children back to chronically failing schools.

Further, House and Senate members worked to establish the Special Education Scholarship Pilot Program, which sought to provide scholarships for children with disabilities to attend special education programs other than those offered by their school districts. o This program would apply to any identified disabled child in grades K through 12 and may be used to pay the expenses of an alternative public service or registered private service of special education programs for implementation of the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). o The Special Education Scholarship Pilot Program was modeled on the existing Autism Scholarship Program, which has been in effect since 2003 and currently serves more than 500 students in Ohio. o Unfortunately, to the disappointment of many, Governor Strickland chose to veto this program. However, I plan to continue the discussion on this issue and hope to change the governor’s mind. If we can’t we will attempt to pass it again or override his veto.