Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ohio House Passes Legislation to Give School Districts More Local Flexibility

COLUMBUS—In an effort to provide more flexibility at the local level and allow school districts to customize their annual school calendars, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 191 with bipartisan support.

House Bill 191 changes the minimum school year for districts and chartered nonpublic schools from 182 days to a requirement of 455 hours for half-day kindergarten, 910 hours for grades 1 through 6, and 1001 hours for grades 7 through 12. The change would go into effect during the 2013-2014 school year.

“This legislation will give school districts the tools they need to provide students with a competitive education and tailor the school year to fit their communities’ needs,” said State Representative Bill Hayes (R-Harrison Township), who sponsored House Bill 191 with State Representative Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland).

The legislation makes other improvements that aim to increase flexibility for school districts, including a measure to eliminate excused calamity days but retain the option of “blizzard bags” and online lessons to make up the equivalent of three school days.

Additionally, House Bill 191 requires districts to hold public hearings on the school calendar 30 days prior to adoption, and requires consultation between districts, community schools and chartered nonpublic schools regarding the impact of any change on transportation and scheduling.

“In the past, we have constructed the school day around the industrial age,” said Representative Patmon. “The work day is eight hours long with a lunch in the middle of the day. Bells ring to identify for workers a change in movement, and so on. However, we are no longer in the industrial age. Ohio’s education system now has E-Classrooms and a lot of flexibility with the exception of the school day. House Bill 191 will help us to move from the industrial age to the information age and show children how today’s current world works.”

House Bill 191 will now be sent to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.