Ohio Senate Republicans have made several big changes to a House bill, HB154, that would repeal and replace the process used to takeover failing schools.
The new process would create a school transformation board made up of state officials and governor appointees. That board would oversee an improvement plan from school districts that continue to see Fs on state report cards.
If a struggling school district enters into a contract with a school improvement expert or organization, then it has six years to achieve better grades. But if the district receives six consecutive F grades, then a process similar to the current “academic distress commission” model would go into effect.
State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) says this plan take his original bill, which focused on community learning centers, and adds more state bureaucracy.
"You're bringing more money to ed consultants,” Miller says. “You're moving taxpayer money away from the children, away from the communities that need it the most.”
Miller's legislative district is Lorain City Schools, which, along with Youngstown and East Cleveland, is currently under an academic distress commission.
The latest state school report card issued Fs to Youngstown and East Cleveland. However, Lorain saw improvement with a D on its report card. Only two other districts received an F on this year's report card: Springfield City and Jefferson Township.
Supporters of the new proposal say it gives school boards more authority while still providing input from the state. Senators also point out that their plan includes a root cause analysis that takes a close look at issues affecting failing school districts.