Kasich soon to unveil plans to revamp Ohio school funding formula

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- Gov. John Kasich expects to unveil his plans to revamp the state's school funding formula later this month, with the potential for incentives for teacher performance, growing use of technology and increased interactions among business and school communities among the possible issues that will be addressed.

"… I don't like to even call it a school funding bill, because it's going to be much more comprehensive than just giving money somewhere, because that's not all that matters …," the governor said, telling reporters later, "I believe it's more than just the dollars."

Kasich made the comments after the ceremonial signing of legislation Jan. 14 to change the way Ohio gauges school performance, shifting from existing labels to an A-F grading scale implemented over the next two school years.

Proponents believe the change is needed because the current system is too confusing for parents to understand and makes it difficult to compare the performance of one district to another.

"… We parents don't have to be bilingual to understand education jargon any longer," said Judy Blackburn, a parent who spoke at the press event. "We all speak letter grades. We know what they mean because we've seen them all of our lives. We know what As, Bs and Cs mean."

Kasich added later, "It's going to allow parents to more clearly understand the quality of their school and how their involvement can help to drive up education. … It allows teachers, superintendents, school officials, school board members to know how the school's doing …"

The governor also used the event at a suburban Columbus elementary school to tout other initiatives implemented under his administration -- a third-grade reading guarantee, with increased intervention at earlier ages, improved teacher evaluations and more career preparation.

Kasich offered generalities but no specifics on the plan, saying the full details would be announced during a town hall meeting in a couple of weeks, sometime before his annual State of the State address to lawmakers and his biennial budget rollout.

"You don't want to get things out before it's completely done, and you don't want to get things out until you have a really good way of explaining it, because it's very complicated," he said. "School funding is extremely complicated. You move one thing and it moves another. You really want to get it right, and you don't want to confuse people out of the box."

Asked about the potential for teacher bonuses tied to school report card performance, Kasich said, "I'm a big believer in teacher bonuses, but we think we have a way perhaps in our school education proposal that could allow school districts to design programs [to do that]. … There will be things in that bill that I believe can empower a local district to make decisions like that."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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