Today, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), ranking member of the Ohio Senate Education Committee, announced the Ohio Senate’s passage of two major education bills: House Bill 404 and Senate Bill 89.
House Bill 404 extends a number of measures implemented in the spring to address the Covid-19 pandemic. These include several provisions from Senate Bill 358, joint-sponsored by Senators Fedor and Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), which address the pandemic’s impact on K-12 education. The bill prohibits the use of student growth data on teacher, principal and counselor evaluations; does not penalize school districts who chose to not administer fall testing; extends the ability to virtual public meetings into July 2021 and grants flexibility in administering school food programs.
“Only the bare essentials from Senate Bill 358 have made their way into House Bill 404,” Fedor said. “We need to be doing more for our teachers and students, who have borne the brunt of this pandemic in too many ways to count.”
Senate Bill 89, which passed on party lines, changes eligibility requirements for the EdChoice voucher program. Under the bill, schools ranked in the bottom 20% according to performance index rankings and those located in a district with 20% or more low-income students are eligible for the program. The bill also expands eligibility for the income-based voucher program from those at 200% of poverty level to 250%. These changes the number of EdChoice eligible buildings for the 2020-21 school year.
Language from the bill that would have dissolved academic distress commissions and restored local control of the school districts in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland was removed from the bill by the conference committee Wednesday afternoon.
“Earlier this year, over the course of three weeks, we heard 49 hours of testimony from 514 witnesses on EdChoice provisions. This bill does not reflect what public school advocates expressed,” said Fedor. “It is time their voices be heard in Ohio’s Statehouse.”
Watch Senator Fedor's full floor speech on Senate Bill 89 here.