Governor DeWine signed House Bill 110 into law on July 1, 2021, setting the state's operating budget for the 2022-2023 biennium. The Bill implements a major restructuring of the Ohio's school funding formula. In addition to the school funding redesign, there are several additional provisions included in the budget bill that will affect Ohio's schools. While this is not intended as a comprehensive guide, some major changes are summarized below.
PKM attorneys continue to monitor these developments, and as interest or concern grows, may release more in-depth topical commentary relating to specific provisions of the bill. If your District has any immediate concerns, please reach out to a PKM attorney for assistance.
Changes to School Funding Formula
The budget bill includes a major rework of the traditional school funding scheme. House Bill 110 implements the Cupp-Patterson model, which has been gaining traction in the legislature for the past several years.
The new formula is a base cost model that factors in statewide employee compensation data and fixed staff-to-student ratios to arrive at base per pupil amount. The current per pupil average is $6,020. When fully implemented, the new funding model will increase that amount to $7,200.
The budget bill provides that the new funding model will be implemented in phases, and restricts its usage to fiscal years 2022-2023. That said, Ohio's legislators will decide whether to continue phasing in the new model after the 2022-2023 biennium.
PKM attorneys plan to provide more in-depth coverage of the new funding formula in an upcoming blog post.
Online Learning Schools
The budget bill implements Section 3302.42 to the Revised Code which authorizes local, city, exempted village, and joint vocational school districts to establish online learning schools. Online learning schools provide instruction to students remotely, primarily through online or computer-based means.
An online learning school established under this provision will differ significantly from the remote learning model many Ohio schools employed during the school building closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The major characteristics of an online learning school are as follows:
- An online learning school will be a single, individual school within a district (with its own distinct IRN), to which all online learning students must be assigned.
- Districts must provide all students enrolled in online learning a computer equipped with filtering software and free internet access for instructional use.
- Districts that operate an online learning school must provide a comprehensive orientation for students and their parents or guardians prior to enrollment.
- Online learning schools must implement a learning management system that tracks the time students participate in online learning activities.
- Online learning schools must have an annual instructional calendar of not less than 910 hours.
Districts wishing to establish an online learning school for the 2021-2022 school year must submit an application to the Ohio Department of Education by August 1, 2021. For more information on this topic, see the Ohio Department of Education's resource here.
Payments in Lieu of Transportation
District boards of education have long been authorized by Section 3327.02 of the Revised Code to offer parents payment in lieu of transportation when it is determined that transporting pupil otherwise eligible for transportation is impractical. However, House Bill 110 brings a number of changes to the traditional format. Most notably:
- C. Section 3327.02 (B) has been changed to require a board of education to pass a resolution declaring transportation of certain pupils impractical not later than thirty (30) days prior to the first day of instruction. Such a determination may be made by the district's superintendent and subsequently formalized at the next board meeting.
- Additionally, a board must issue a letter to the pupil's parents or guardian, the nonpublic or community school in which the pupil is enrolled (if the pupil is enrolled in a nonpublic or community school within the district), and to the state board of education with a detailed description of why such a determination was made.
- Payments in lieu of transportation must be at least fifty percent (50%) than the average cost of pupil transportation for the previous school year, as determined by the Ohio Department of Education.
- The bill adds Section 3327.017 to the Revised Code, which prohibits school districts from arranging to transport eligible students enrolled in a community or chartered nonpublic school via mass transit, unless the school district enters into an agreement with that school authorizing such transportation.
Disqualifying Offenses (Educator Licensure)
R.C. Section 3319.31 has long required the state board of education to revoke an educator's license for a conviction of a number of enumerated offenses. The budget bill adds human trafficking (“trafficking in persons” under R.C. 2905.32) as a disqualifying offense.
Educator Background Checks
House Bill 110 adds Section 3319.319 to the Revised Code, which allows any school district in Ohio or another state to request from the Ohio Department of Education any reports of misconduct it has received regarding an individual under consideration for employment by the school district. Upon providing such information, the Department must notify the officer acting on behalf of the requesting district that such information is confidential.
Employment Applications and Educator Profile Database
The budget bill adds Section 3319.393 to the Revised Code, which requires school districts to include the following notice in all employment applications in boldface type:
“ANY PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY MAKES A FALSE STATEMENT IS GUILTY OF FALSIFICATION UNDER SECTION 2921.13 OF THE REVISED CODE, WHICH IS A MISDEMEANOR OF THE FIRST DEGREE.”
Furthermore, the newly-added Section 3319.393 specifies that all school districts must consult the “educator profile” database maintained by the Ohio Department of Education on its website prior to making any hiring decision. Additionally, the statute allows a district to employ an individual on a conditional basis pending receipt of background check information after consulting the “educator profile” database. Should such information indicate that the individual has engaged in conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession or has committed an offense that prevents, limits, or otherwise affects the applicant's employment, a district may release the individual from employment.
Counseling for Victims of Sexual Harassment
House Bill 110 also adds Section 3319.47 to the Revised Code, which authorizes school districts to provide counseling to victims of sexual harassment or sexually related conduct.
The bill imposes new curricular requirements:
- Vaping education. C. Section 3313.60 is modified to require school districts to include instruction in the harmful effects and legal restrictions of electronic smoking devices (vaping) in the health curriculum.
- Parental consent for sex education. C. Section 3313.6011 has been updated to include a provision requiring school districts offering additional instruction in venereal disease or sex education to notify all parents or guardians that the instruction is being offered, and also requiring written parental instruction before offering such instruction to a student.
Unused School Facilities
The budget bill modifies the requirements of R.C. Section 3313.411, which provides for the sale of unused school facilities. The statute's definition of “unused school facility” has been expanded to include either of the following: “(a) any real property that has been used by a school district for school operations, including, but not limited to, academic instruction or administration, since July 1, 1998, but has not been used in that capacity for one year;” or “(b) any school building that has been used for direct academic instruction but less than sixty per cent of the building was used for that purpose in the preceding school year.”
If either of these criteria are met, a district's obligations to offer such a building for lease or sale to community and other specified types of schools are triggered. However, the statute's provisions establishing the order and priority of such offers remain unchanged.
The budget bill implements some notable changes to statewide standardized testing.
The bill includes a provision which will allow parents of students, starting with the graduating class of 2026, to opt out of the requirement that students take a nationally standardized college entrance exam, such as the ACT or SAT.
Additionally, the bill shifts the timeframe a district must administer the kindergarten readiness assessment to kindergarten students under R.C. Section 3301.0715. The statute's new language now requires the assessments to be administered between July 1 and the twentieth day of instruction of the school year.
House Bill 110 implements some changes to the Educational Choice (“EdChoice”) Scholarship program. Notably, EdChoice eligibility has been expanded to:
- Siblings of current EdChoice students;
- Students currently in foster care; and
- Any incoming ninth-grader.
Additionally, the budget bill removes the cap on the number of EdChoice scholarships to increase availability.
The budget bill repeals R.C. Section 3314.02's requirement that startup community schools be located in a “challenged school district.” Accordingly, a startup community school may open in any district.
College Credit Plus Programs
House Bill 110 includes changes to the eligibility requirements for college credit plus programs provided for in R.C. Section 3365.03.
Prior to the changes implemented by the bill, students were eligible to participate in college credit plus programs if they achieved remediation-free scores on either the SAT or the ACT. Alternatively, a student scoring within one standard of error below the remediation-free threshold could still enroll in a college credit plus program if he or she had a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0, or received a recommendation from a school counselor, principal, or career technical advisor.
The budget bill removes the alternative eligibility pathway, and instead directs the chancellor of higher education and the superintendent of public instruction to promulgate new rules for alternative eligibility. As of the time of writing, these rules have not yet been published.
Additionally, the bill adds R.C. 3365.035, which directs the Departments of Education and Higher Education to jointly develop a permission slip for students enrolling in a college credit plus program regarding the potential for mature subject matter in a course taken through the program, which both an enrolling student and the student's parent must sign upon admission to the program.
The bill includes some changes to R.C. Section 3313.603, which relaxes current graduation requirements for Ohio's high school students. The changes allow students to earn a requisite “citizenship seal” by earning a final course grade of B or higher in American Government and American History in lieu of the current requirement of achieving a score of “proficient” or better on the respective End of Course Exams.