Advocacy Update – 5.5.23 – Budget, Third Grade Reading Retention, Removal of Merit Scholarships and State Board of Education Changes

Senate Education

Senate Education has continued to hear testimony for the budget bill (HB33) from various stakeholders regarding school funding, career/tech, mental health, literacy, remediation, school choice, and school security this week.  Amongst those requesting additional school funding, Craig Burford of the Ohio Education Service Center Association, requested additional funds that would equal those given to school districts in the House version of HB33.  Conversations in Senate Education surrounding third grade reading retention involved discussions about how and why schools decide to retain a child and the “pandemic catch up.”  

Senate Workforce and Higher Education

Governor DeWine’s original budget included $5,000 merit scholarships for the top 5% of high school graduates. Citing “brain drain” and wishing to keep Ohio’s brightest graduating high school students in Ohio, numerous people testified to put back the merit scholarships in the Senate version of HB33.  

House Primary and Secondary Education

The elimination of the third grade reading retention was also discussed in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee (HB117).  Several teachers, educators, and parents spoke in support of this bill.  Additionally, OEA, OFT, and the Ohio School Psychologists Association also spoke in support.  

State Board of Education

Current Interim Superintendent Siddens has recommended the State Board of Education consider both Chris Woolard and Jessica Voltolini as her replacement.  Chris Woolard is the current chief program office at ODE and Jessica Voltolini is ODE’s chief of staff.  The State Board of Education meets May 8th and 9th and will consider appointing an interim superintendent.