WESTLAKE, Ohio (WJW) – The Ohio Legislature passed a bill that reduces funding cuts to some local school districts and gives them increased flexibility as they cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, amid budget shortfalls due to the pandemic, the state announced major funding cuts to local school districts.
The Rocky River City Schools stood to lose 55 percent of its state funding and the Westlake City Schools faced a 41 percent cut, totaling about $1 million.
“We knew there was going to be a reduction, we were just surprised how disproportionate it was,” said Westlake City Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Goggin. “When you lose a million dollars a year, that’s a very strong number of staff members and we are a people business and that would eventually catch up to us.”
H.B. 164, which passed the House by an overwhelming majority Thursday, caps funding cuts at six percent.
The bill also allows districts to reassign teachers with at least three years of experience to another grade level that falls outside their license but within two grade levels for the upcoming school year.
“It gives us the flexibility to where, if we get in a situation and see a need, it takes away some of the red tape to be able to allocate our best staff to work with those kids,” Goggin said.
Among other changes, the legislation also removes requirements for testing that was cancelled, allowing students to graduate or advance to the next grade level.
“One of the things I noticed in House Bill 164 was the flexibility provided by the legislation due to the situation we’re in, and we greatly appreciate that,” Goggin said.