The nation's economic woes are making life hard on state budget crafters around the country.?? While Ohio's unemployment rate has decreased slightly, we're nowhere near out of the woods yet, as evidenced by this particularly miserable news day for Ohio's schools:
Early college high schools have lost a large portion of their funding. (Mike Laffery discussed this situation earlier in the Ohio Education Gadfly) Two such schools in Columbus, which allow students to graduate from high school with up to two years of college credit, will look very different after the cuts. The Africentric School, operated by Columbus City Schools, has lost close to $1 million. It will still offer some college enrollment opportunities, but students will graduate with far less college credit. The Metro School, a STEM school long touted as an innovative model, has lost more than $800,000 of its funding to pay for college classes.
The Ohio Department of Education, already understaffed and overworked, had its budget slashed, despite the influx of $1.65 billion in federal education stimulus money. The agency will have to cut additional staff, services, and testing. Add to this the fact they've already been given the unfortunate task of turning the headache-inducing provisions of HB1 into reality, and they really have a difficult road ahead of them. (Whoever can come up with a way to turn ???enthusiasm' and ???self-direction' into assessable skills deserves a MacArthur Award)
The State Supreme Court decided that Gov. Strickland's slot machine plan, one of the central revenue-generating components of his school reform, is subject to a voter referendum. Ohio is traditionally a hard sell on gambling issues, having consistently voted down measures to allow casinos in the state (and Strickland was a leading anti-gambling voice for decades, until he needed the money to salvage his budget in July). This only darkens the shadow being cast on how the state will pay for its increased share of education funding over the next few years.
This is all coming on a Monday after an already depressing couple of weeks for Ohio school finance. If you really feel brave, you can check out the coverage here, here, here and here.
If it's any consolation, funding for school resource officers (translation: school police) has been increased.