The highest ranking Democratic member of the House Education Committee, Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), today responded to news reports that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) fails to maintain critical documentation related to students’ offline work and that Auditor of State Dave Yost failed to conduct a comprehensive audit after receiving allegations of attendance fraud at the online charter school.
The Toledo lawmaker has called on Yost in the recent past to investigate Ohio Virtual Academy, the state’s second largest online charter school, for the same attendance scrubbing allegations taking place at ECOT. Fedor again called on Yost to reopen the investigation into the data scrubbing scandal that led to the resignation of David Hansen.
State Rep. Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) will join former First Lady Dr. Frances Strickland and President of the Reynoldsburg City School Board Joe Begeny for a public forum to discuss the state of education in Ohio Wednesday, Aug. 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Reynoldsburg.
“In light of recent changes and controversies surrounding Ohio’s education system, including new testing and charter school oversight standards, I wanted to engage citizens in a meaningful way on the state of Ohio education before the start of the new school year,” said Bishoff, a former Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education member.
State Reps. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today offered their condolences following the passing of Summit County Executive Russ Pry. Pry’s death comes just two days after announcing that he would not seek re-election due to ongoing health issues.
State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) sent a letter to Governor Kasich urging him to take action and set aside $50 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund—which currently holds over $2 billion—to create a Disaster Preparedness Contingency Fund. The new disaster relief fund would be available to local counties and communities to exclusively plan, prevent and respond to mosquito-borne diseases.
State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today announced Ohio’s second-ever sales tax-free holiday scheduled for next weekend, August 5-7. The tax-free holiday runs Friday through Sunday and covers many back-to-school items, including clothing, school supplies and instructional materials.
“The recent tax shifts under Gov. Kasich may drive shoppers in border areas to purchase back-to-school items in a neighboring state,” said Cera, who co-sponsored the bill to create this year’s sale tax holiday. “The sales-tax holiday is an opportunity for Ohio parents and teachers to shop at local businesses and save money on important purchases before the start of the new school year.”
State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today criticized the state’s recent decision to stockpile Ohio’s Rainy Day budget surplus fund with an extra $30 million instead of sending the money back to 31 local communities listed in fiscal distress by the state. Reps. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and Smith this year introduced House Bill (HB) 508 to lift 31 communities listed in fiscal distress by the state, a measure that would require just under $30 million.
“This latest addition to the state’s massive surplus highlights the Kasich administration’s arrogance by showing they simply doesn’t understand or care what it’s like on the ground in local communities throughout our state like Clarksville, East Cleveland and Galion,” said Smith. “The fact is the administration continues to withhold critical tax revenue generated in these local communities by stockpiling some bank account in Columbus. Meanwhile, locals are forced to raise taxes, cut essential services or let infrastructure crumble. It is hypocritical that the Rainy Day fund was built on the backs of our communities, but even more so now that The Administration continues to withhold needed revenues from the cities, towns and villages that make up our state.”
State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today announced the release of $990,048 in “Straight A” grant funding for the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. The funding will help participating school districts ensure that students are college and career ready with the implementation of the Mahoning Valley Prepared for Success project. In addition, Mahoning County schools will also receive $915,603 for the Northeast Ohio Literacy Consortium, a program created by The Ohio State University to enhance student’s literacy skills.
State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today announced the release of over $700,000 for the expansion of the Sit Together and Read – Ohio (STAR – Ohio) 10-county program to help reduce the risk of future disabilities for children in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) classrooms. The state funding will be used to further Summit County’s reach and development of the “Sit Together and Read” program to 525 students in the first year of the program’s operation. Funding was made available for the program through the state’s “Straight A Grant.”
State Rep. Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) responded to today’s news that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will join the U.S. Department of Justice in opposition to the proposed healthcare insurance merger of Aetna and Humana. DeWine’s involvement comes after Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor rubber-stamped the merger in May of this year, following the Blacklick lawmaker’s request to her for public hearings due to concerns of increased consumer costs, lower-quality service and an overall reduction in Ohioans’ access to healthcare that such a merger could bring.
“I am pleased Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine agrees with my concerns that the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana could reduce access to healthcare for Ohio families,” said Bishoff.
State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today announced the release of over $3 million to the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio as part of the Infant Mortality Pathways HUB Model Demonstration Expansion grant program in Toledo. The program is designed to combat Toledo’s abysmal infant mortality crisis by targeting outreach programs and services to at-risk women.
“Infant mortality is still a heart wrenching reality for too many families in our community and throughout our state,” said Sheehy. “I am pleased to see the state’s continued investment in proven programs like the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB that connects potentially at-risk women with quality resources and practices to ensure they give birth to happy, healthy babies that live to see their first birthday.”