Governor John Kasich signed the 2012-2013 biennium State Operating Budget into law on June 30, 2011. House Bill 153, as has been reported extensively around
Ohio, was one of the most policy-heavy state budgets in recent memory. It changed funding levels for public programs, but also shifted funding sources and modified administrative regulations for many state agencies and political subdivisions.
While many districts suffered cuts both in Foundation Funding and reductions due to accelerated phase-outs of the tangible personal property (TPPT) and kilowatt hour (KWH) taxes, Career Tech received flat Foundation Funding at 2011 levels. The accelerated cuts in TPPT taxes will have a negative impact on CTE, but in a Statehouse compromise, the legislature capped cuts due to TPPT rollback at 4% of total resources to a district. A chart of funding for all JVSDs and a review of the impact on the TPPT and KWH taxes can be found at http://obm.ohio.gov/SectionPages/Budget/FY1213/SchoolFunding.aspx.
The Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education worked hard to integrate several administrative measures into House Bill 153. Relief from administrative burdens included improved background check procedures and changes to degree requirements for CTE instructors. ACTE successes in the State Budget include:
- School Supplies: Language contained in HB 1 last year eliminated all local discretion to determine how to cover costs for workforce-readiness equipment for students eligible for free lunch. This unfunded mandate disproportionately impacts CTE, where students often pay fees for tools, equipment, and licensure for their training and for later use in their professional careers. Language in the budget bill now gives school districts the option to charge students for supplies that are used for career readiness and are taken into the workforce following graduation.
- Tax Increment Financing (TIF): The Ohio Revised Code affords traditional school districts protection from reduced tax revenue when a locality utilizes tax increment financing. JVSDs will now enjoy the same protection negotiated by the traditional school district in the same TIF geographic area.
- School Facility funding for JVSDs: Currently, the OSFC, “may set aside up to two per cent of the aggregate amount appropriated to it for classroom facilities assistance projects.” New budget language would allow the OSFC to exceed the current cap if necessary to fund up to one new JVSD project per year.
- Degree Requirements: Current Ohio Administrative Code section 3301-24.08 requires that career-tech teachers who do not already have a baccalaureate degree complete at least an associate degree in their field before they can renew a provisional teaching license. Now, the State Board of Education can take life experience, professional certification and practical ability into account when issuing a career technical teaching license. Applicants will not necessarily need to hold a degree to renew their license.
- Background Checks: Current law requires a background check for every new teacher – this includes instructors who have taught in the past but may have been on hiatus for a period of time. But in the adult context, instructors often are hired to train adults in short, skill-upgrading courses that do not last the entire school year. The new law will allow JVSDs to perform background checks every two years for adult education instructors, lessening the burden on CTE schools with adult ed instructors who teach on irregular schedules.
- Sick Leave: The Ohio Revised Code creates an unfunded mandate that all full-time and part-time, seasonal, intermittent, hourly and per diem board of education employees shall receive 15 days of paid sick leave per year, credited at a rate of 1 1/4 days per month. This applies to part-time adult education instructors even though such employees set their own schedule and re-schedule a class when sick. The budget bill exempts part-time adult workforce education instructors from the current leave requirement, more accurately reflecting the nature of their schedules.
- Inclusive Finance Option: Given their large geographic areas and tax valuations, career centers often finance improvements via voted levies rather than voted bond issues like their member districts might pursue. Career centers who also train adults can now pursue a single levy, so all components relating to an OSFC project, Local Share and Locally Funded Initiatives, may be financed.
In addition to the items listed above, the Kasich Administration worked with State Senators and Representatives to ensure that a school district’s total operating funding be reduced proportionately if the district is unable to spend the total amount of career-technical education funding allocated to that district. This is to discourage districts from not spending CTE dollars to help bolster the general operating fund for that district.
ACTE pursued other items in the budget that were not included because of ongoing discussions surrounding the potential ballot referendum on Senate Bill 5. We will keep working throughout the remainder of this year to track and influence important legislation and proposed rules affecting career and technical education throughout the state.
We understand that Governor Kasich desires to revisit the state budget and education reform when legislators return from summer recess in September. As of this report, no formal meetings have been set, but certain individuals have been identified as the lead legislators and administratos to discuss school funding in the coming year. State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Dr. Robert Sommers will be driving that effort.