by German Lopez
69 days ago
Kasich adviser named superintendent, bridge costs may change, educators protest budget
The Ohio Board of Education named Richard Ross,
one of Gov. John Kasich’s top education advisers, to the state school
superintendent position. Ross’ appointment links the Ohio Department of
Education more closely with Kasich, according to StateImpact Ohio. Ross
is replacing Stan Heffner, who resigned in August after an ethics
investigation found he had misused state resources for personal matters
and testified in favor of legislation that could have benefited a
company he planned to work for.In a study that should be out next month, Ohio and Kentucky officials are reviewing the Brent Spence Bridge project
to make it more affordable.
Many officials want to use tolling to help pay for the bridge, but
northern Kentucky residents and elected officials have pushed back
because they’re concerned tolls will divert traffic to other bridges in
Ohio and hurt the local economy.
In a press conference in front of the Ohio Statehouse
yesterday, more than 100 educators and members of the Coalition of Rural
and Appalachian Schools (CORAS) asked Kasich to rework his education
reform proposal in a way that would raise per-pupil funding, fully fund transportation,
career technical and special education programs and pay for new
initiatives like the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Under Kasich’s
current proposal, the state is reducing aid from $5,700 for each student
to $5,000, but CORAS says funding should be increased to $6,270. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal, which includes his education reform plan, here.
While funding in Kasich’s plan is mixed for traditional public schools, charter schools will get 4.5 percent more funding,
according to the Legislative Service Commission. Conservatives
typically tout charter schools for providing more “school choice,” but
in a previous report, Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning policy research group, found more choices may bring down results from teachers and students.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan and friends and family of fire victims are pushing for a review of Cincinnati’s fire ordinance codes
to avert fire deaths. The proposed changes include more required
fire exits, annual inspections, a mandatory fire drill at the beginning
of each school semester, the removal of all exceptions in the code and a
measure that would prevent air conditioning units from being placed on
windows that are supposed to act as exits. Quinlivan is also encouraging
the University of Cincinnati to restart a certified list of preferred
rental locations around campus, which would only include housing
properties that pass fire safety inspections.
The first public hearings on Kasich’s budget proposal to expand Medicaid contained mixed testimony,
with supporters touting greater accessibility to health care and
improved health results and opponents claiming that Medicaid leads to
worse outcomes and will discourage people from improving their economic
situation. Previous studies, which CityBeat covered along with the rest of Kasich’s budget proposal here,
found Medicaid expansions led to lower mortality rates and better
health outcomes in certain states. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio
says the Medicaid expansion will save the state money in the next decade and provide health insurance to 456,000 Ohioans by 2022.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has posted the full lawsuit filed against the city’s parking plan, which is set to have a hearing in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Friday. CityBeat wrote more about the lawsuit here.
Judge Robert Ruehlman ruled that Elmwood Place can’t collect
on tickets from speed cameras that he recently deemed a violation of
motorists’ due process. The city and police are filing an appeal to the
initial ruling, which halted the use of the cameras.
Eighteen percent of Greater Cincinnati’s chief financial officers plan to hire
for new professional-level positions in the second quarter, while 66
percent say they will only fill jobs that open in the next three months.
Ohio joined 37 states and the District of Columbia in a $7 million settlement with Google yesterday that is expected to net $162,000 for the state.
The case centered around Google collecting data from unsecured wireless
networks nationwide and taking photographs for its Street View service
between 2008 and March 2010.
The effort to effectively ban Internet sweepstakes cafes passed an Ohio House committee.
The federal government may not need to balance its budget at all, according to Bloomberg.
Trained Soviet attack dolphins with head-mounted guns are on the loose.
by German Lopez
88 days ago
City could raise rate cap, Cranley's website against parking plan, superintendent pays up
While fact checking an interview, CityBeat
discovered it will be possible to circumvent the parking plan’s cap
on meter rate increases through a multilayer process that involves
approval from a special committee, the city manager and the Port of
Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. The process adds a potential
loophole to one of the city manager’s main defenses against fears of
skyrocketing rates, but Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, says raising
the cap requires overcoming an extensive series of hurdles: unanimous
approval from a board with four members appointed by the Port Authority
and one selected by the city manager, affirmation from the city manager
and a final nod from the Port Authority. Olberding says the process is
necessary in case anything changes during the 30-year time span of the
parking deal, which CityBeat covered in detail here.
Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley launched DontSellCincinnati.org to prevent the city manager’s parking plan, which
semi-privatizes the city’s parking assets. The website claims the plan
gives for-profit investment companies power over enforcement, guarantees
3-percent rate increases every year and blows through all the money
raised in two years. The plan does task a private company with
enforcement, but it will be handled by Xerox, not a financial firm, and
must follow standards set in the company’s agreement with the Port
Authority. While the plan does allow 3-percent rate increases each year,
Olberding says the Port Authority will have the power to refuse an
increase — meaning it’s not a guarantee.
Arnol Elam, the Franklin City Schools superintendent who
sent an angry letter to Gov. John Kasich over his budget plan, is no
longer being investigated for misusing county resources after he paid $539 in restitution. CityBeat
covered Elam’s letter, which told parents and staff about regressive
funding in Kasich’s school funding proposal, and other parts of the
governor’s budget in an in-depth cover story.
To the surprise of no one, Ohio’s oil lobby is still against Kasich’s tax plan, which raises a 4 percent severance tax on oil and wet gas from high-producing fracking wells and a 1 percent tax on dry gas.
Local faith leaders from a diversity of religious backgrounds held a press conference
yesterday to endorse the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom
Amendment, an amendment from FreedomOhio that would legalize same-sex
marriage in the state. Pastor Mike Underhill of the Nexus United Church
of Christ (UCC) in Butler County, Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp of Temple
Sholom, Pamela Taylor of Muslims for Progressive Values and Mike
Moroski, who recently lost his job as assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School for standing up for LGBT rights all attended the event. CityBeat covered the amendment and its potential hurdles for getting on the 2013 ballot here.
Vanessa White, a member of the Cincinnati Public Schools board, is running for City Council.
White is finishing her first four-year term at the board after winning
the seat handily in 2009. She has said she wants to stop the streetcar
project, but she wants to increase collaboration between the city and
schools and create jobs for younger people.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ (BMV) policy on providing driver’s licenses to the children of illegal immigrants remains unclear. Since CityBeat
broke the story on the BMV policy, the agency has shifted from internally pushing
against driver’s licenses for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) recipients to officially “reviewing guidance from the federal
government as it applies to Ohio law.” DACA is an executive order from
President Barack Obama that allows the children of illegal immigrants to
qualify for permits that enable them to remain in the United States
without fear of prosecution.
A survey from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments found locals are generally satisfied with roads, housing and issues that affect them everyday. The survey included 2,500 people and questions about energy efficiency, infrastructure, public health, schools and other issues.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine revealed 7,000 Ohioans
have received more than $280 million in consumer relief as part of the
National Mortgage Settlement announced one year ago. The $25 billion
settlement between the federal government and major banks punishes
reckless financial institutions and provides relief to homeowners in the
aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Ohio received a $3 million federal grant to continue improving the state’s health care payments and delivery programs.
Cincinnati home sales reached a six-year high after a 27-percent jump in January.
CityBeat’s Hannah “McAttack” McCartney interviewed yours truly for the first post of her Q&A-based blog, Cinfolk.
Crows have a sense of fairness, a new study found.
by German Lopez
92 days ago
PUCO appointment criticized, poll supports school funding, superintendent investigation
Gov. John Kasich appointed a former Republican to a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) seat that must go to a Democrat or Independent, according to The Plain Dealer.
M. Beth Trombold will finish her term as the assistant director in
Kasich’s Ohio Development Services Agency in April, when she will then
take up the PUCO position. The appointment immediately drew criticism
from some Democrats. State Rep. Mike Foley of Cleveland called the
appointment “another example of Kasich cronyism running rampant.”
A poll from Innovation Ohio, a left-leaning policy research group, found Kasich’s budget proposals aren’t popular with most Ohioans.
The poll found 62 percent of Ohioans prefer prioritizing school funding
over reducing the state income tax, while only 32 percent prefer tax
reduction. When asked what Ohio lawmakers should prioritize in the
coming months, 56 percent said job creation, 38 percent said school
funding, 24 percent said keeping local property taxes low and 18 percent
said cutting the state income tax.
A school superintendent from Warren County may face prosecution for misusing public resources after he wrote a letter to parents urging them to campaign against Kasich, reports Dayton Daily News.
Franklin City Schools Superintendent Arnol Elam was apparently angry with
Kasich’s new school funding formula, which did not increase funding for
poor school districts like Franklin Cities, but did give increases to
Springboro, Mason and Kings — the three wealthiest districts in Warren
County. County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he will be investigating
Elam for engaging in political activity with public resources.Kasich will give his State of the State Tuesday. The speech is expected to focus on the governor’s budget and tax reform plans.
As part of an agreement with the city, Duke Energy is suing over the streetcar project, according to WLWT. The lawsuit is meant to settle who has to pay for moving utility lines to accommodate for the streetcar. CityBeat covered the agreement between the city and Duke here and how the streetcar will play a pivotal role in the 2013 mayor’s race here.
Thousands of people in Butler County, mainly students, are benefiting from Judge Robert Lyons’ criminal record seals, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Lyons’ practice of sealing cases came to light after he sealed the case for the Miami University student who posted a flyer on how to get
away with rape. In the past five years, Lyons has sealed 2,945 cases — more
than a third of the new misdemeanor cases filed.
Ohio’s casinos are falling far short of original revenue projections, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
It’s uncertain why that’s the case, but some are pointing to
Internet-sweepstakes cafes. Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino, which will
open March 4, was spurred by the original projections.
StateImpact Ohio reports that many Ohio teachers are concerned with new teaching evaluation rules.
Two Cincinnati Republicans will begin reviewing the effects of legislation
that deregulated phone companies in Ohio, reports Gongwer. State Rep.
Peter Stautberg, who chairs the House Public Utilities Committee, and
State Sen. Bill Seitz, who chairs the Senate Public Utilities Committee,
will hear testimony from PUCO Tuesday.
Downtown’s Chiquita center has landed in bankruptcy, reports WCPO. The building lost its major tenant last year when Chiquita Brands relocated to Charlotte, N.C.
“Star Trek” is becoming reality. University of Cincinnati researchers are developing a tricorder device to help users monitor their own health, reports WVXU.Are you worried about space rocks recently? Popular Science says NASA is concerned as well.
by German Lopez
99 days ago
Posted In: Education
at 04:25 PM | Permalink
State auditor lays blame on state policy
A new report from the state auditor found Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) and Winton Woods City Schools were manipulating
attendance data for the 2011-2012 school year, but the report seems to lay
much of the blame on state policy, not just irresponsible school
CPS and Winton Woods were cited among nine
school districts by State Auditor Dave Yost for improperly withdrawing
students from enrollment. More than 70 other schools had errors in their
attendance reporting, but they were not found to be purposely
manipulating — or “scrubbing” — attendance data.
The report largely focused on flaws in state policy that enable bad attendance
reporting — particularly a single “count week” in October that
encourages school districts to boost attendance during that one week and
no other time in the school year.
“Kids count every day, all year long,” Yost said in a
statement. “They deserve better than what we're giving them — Ohio's
current system for measuring attendance and performance is obsolete and
in too many places, filled with error and bad information and even
outright fraud. It's amazing that it works at all, and sometimes, it
As a solution, Yost is calling on legislators to change school funding so it’s based on year-long attendance reporting.
The report also made 12 other recommendations, including
increased oversight and monitoring, more programs for at-risk students,
better training, use of automated data reporting, more accessibility to
pertinent information for the Ohio Department of Education and clearer
Winton Woods was one of the few schools to self-report
issues to the auditor. Jim Smith, interim superintendent of Winton
Woods, admits the school made mistakes and will make adjustments. But he says most of the issues
were explained away as errors, not intentional data manipulation. Only four
of the 15 issues
couldn’t be reasonably explained, according to Smith.
Smith says the Education Management Information System (EMIS), which is used to report attendance data, is problematic for highly mobile
students, particularly in urban school districts. He argues the system
is too complicated and difficult to use for tracking such students.
In a Feb. 8 press release, Winton Woods claimed
the reporting issues were related to confusion regarding expelled
students, poor record keeping and a lack of well-defined procedures and
In an emailed statement, CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan wrote the school district made mistakes, but internal audits did not find evidence of data manipulation or scrubbing. She linked the errors to confusing state policy and issues with highly mobile students.
School attendance data is one of many ways states measure
school performance, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.Update (Feb. 12, 10:29 a.m.): Originally, this story did not include comments from CPS. It was updated to reflect comments CityBeat obtained after publishing.
by German Lopez
99 days ago
Qualls calls for debates, CPS serves as model, Kasich's education plan breaks promises
In response to Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley’s
call for a debate, the campaign for Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, another
Democratic candidate for mayor, is calling both campaigns to schedule a
series of debates. Jens Sutmoller, Qualls’ campaign manager, said in a
statement, “Vice Mayor Qualls believes the citizens of Cincinnati
deserve a robust series of public debates between the two final 2013
Mayoral candidates. She looks forward to articulating her optimistic
vision of Cincinnati’s future and the investments we need to make in our
neighborhoods and city to achieve a welcoming city of opportunity for
all our citizens.”
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are being used as a model
by other schools around the state and country. Other schools are
particularly interested in Cincinnati’s community learning centers,
which provide services not directly related to education, including health clinics,
mental health counselors, tutoring programs and extensive after-school
programs. The approach is being praised for making schools serve the
greater needs of communities. CityBeat wrote about CPS and its community learning centers here.
Steve Dyer, an education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, says Gov. John Kasich’s school education plan actually does the opposite
of what Kasich claimed: “However, after examining the
district-by-district runs produced by the Kasich Administration
yesterday (which I posted at Innovation Ohio earlier), what is clear
that even without eliminating the guaranteed money Kasich said he wants
to eliminate soon, kids in the poorest property wealth districts in the
state will receive 25 cents in additional state revenue for every $1
received by kids in the property wealthiest districts.” A CityBeat analysis found the education plan increases funding for Cincinnati Public Schools, but not enough to make up for past cuts.
The University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati State and Miami University are getting slight increases in funding under Kasich’s higher education funding plan.
The plan increases overall higher education funding by 1.9 percent,
with UC getting 2.4 percent more funding, Cincinnati State getting 4
percent more and Miami getting 1.8 percent more. The increased funding
should be helpful to Miami University, which recently initiated $99 million in summer construction and renovation projects. Historically, Ohio has given its universities less funding per pupil than other parts of the country.
An appeals court ruling could put the Anna Louise Inn back at square one.
On Friday, the Ohio First District Court of Appeals affirmed most of a
lower court’s ruling against the Anna Louise Inn, but it sent the case
back down to the lower court on a legal technicality. The ruling means
the case could restart, but Tim Burke, the inn's attorney, claims the Anna Louise Inn has already done what the appeals court asked. For CityBeat’s other coverage of the Anna Louise Inn, click here.
Media outlets are finally picking up the story about illegal immigrants and driver’s licenses. Gongwer wrote about it here, and The Columbus Dispatch covered it here. CityBeat originally wrote about the story last week (“Not Legal Enough,” issue of Feb. 6).
Following the board president’s comparison of Adolf Hitler and President Barack Obama, the Ohio State Board of Education is set to discuss social media. CityBeat wrote about Board President Debe Terhar’s ridiculous Facebook post here.
Remember the Tower Place Mall! Two tenants are holding out at the troubled mall as they look for different downtown locations.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants everyone to know he’s still cracking down on synthetic drugs.
The pope is stepping down.
How kids draw dinosaurs is probably wrong.
by German Lopez
103 days ago
Budget increases aren’t enough to overcome troubled past
Gov. John Kasich touted a rosy, progressive vision when announcing his education reform plan Jan. 31, but reality does not match the governor’s optimism. It’s true Kasich’s proposed 2014-2015 budget
will not reduce school funding, but under the Kasich administration,
local schools will still have a net loss in state funds.
The governor’s office released tentative budget numbers yesterday that show the Kasich plan will give Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) $8.8 million more funding for the 2014 fiscal year. But that’s not enough to make up for the $39 million CPS will lose in the same fiscal year due to Kasich’s first budget, which was passed passed in 2011. Even with the new education plan, the net loss in the 2014 fiscal year is $30.2 million.
The problem is Kasich’s first budget had massive cuts for schools. The elimination of the tangible personal
property reimbursements (TPP) hit CPS particularly hard, as CityBeat previously covered (“Battered But Not Broken,”
issue of Oct. 3). In the Cut Hurts Ohio website, Innovation Ohio and Policy Matters Ohio estimated Kasich’s budget cuts resulted in $1.8 billion less funding for
education statewide. In Hamilton County, the cuts led to
$117 million less funding.
Kasich’s massive cuts didn’t even lead to lower taxes for many Ohioans. A report from Innovation Ohio found
school districts and voters made up for the big education cuts with $487 million in new school levies. In 2012, Cincinnati voters approved a $51.5 million levy for CPS. The school levies are a direct
increase on local income and property taxes, but they’re measures
Ohioans clearly felt they had to take in the face of big state
For more analysis of Kasich’s budget, check out CityBeat’s other coverage:
Kasich Tax Cut Favors WealthyGovernor’s Budget Ignores Troubled PastKasich Budget Expands Medicaid, Cuts Taxes
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Speaking in front of Ohio school
administrators Jan. 31, Gov. John Kasich unveiled a surprisingly
progressive-sounding education reform plan that seeks to diminish school
funding inequality, but it also expands Ohio’s flawed voucher program.
by German Lopez
110 days ago
New funding plan surprisingly progressive but expands vouchers
Speaking in front of Ohio school administrators Thursday,
Gov. John Kasich unveiled a surprisingly progressive-sounding education reform plan that seeks to diminish school funding inequality, but it also expands
Ohio’s flawed voucher program.
Kasich said the plan will not cut any school district’s
funding, but it will work to reduce gaps between the wealthy and
poor. Currently, the poorest school district can get $700 to $800 per pupil for 20 mills of property taxes, while the wealthiest districts
can get as much as $14,000 per pupil. The plan will eliminate much of that gap,
according to Kasich.
Kasich’s plan will open up extra funding for students with
severe disabilities and students who need to learn English, on top of a
$300 million “innovation
fund” that will reward schools with grants for initiatives that improve
learning and teaching. The plan will also expand the state’s voucher program to
provide private school tuition for any family below 200 percent of
the federal poverty level — about $46,000 for a family of four. The
vouchers, which will become available in the fall, will be worth up to
$4,250 a year. Parents will be allowed to choose between participating
But the expansion of “school choice” through more vouchers may not be a good thing. A previous Policy Matters Ohio report found expanded school choice can have negative effects on education, including worse results for students and teachers.
Kasich justified his proposals by claiming, “The Lord is
watching us as we make an effort to give our children the knowledge that
they want in order to be successful and to pursue their God-given
He also said the program is fully funded, which was made possible by extra revenue gained from Ohio’s economic rebound.
On judging his proposals, Kasich said, “We need to think about this not in isolation. We need to think about this over the course of the last couple
Taking the governor at his request, his administration actually signed off on education cuts in
the past couple years. Cuts Hurt Ohio, a website that tracks budget cuts
enacted by Kasich, shows funding to education was cut statewide by $1.8 billion. For Hamilton County, $117 million in
education funding was cut.
Kasich also helped push a few education initiatives
through the Ohio legislature. During the press conference, he cited
his Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, which forces schools to hold back
students who aren’t “proficient” in reading. Kasich also pointed to the
new school report cards, which use an A-to-F grading system to give more
transparency to parents and enforce higher standards for schools.The plan will require approval from the Ohio legislature to become law. It also may face scrutiny from courts; the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled the state's school funding system relies too much on local property taxes.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar drew
criticism recently for posting a politically motivated picture on Facebook comparing Adolf Hitler to President Barack Obama.
by German Lopez
113 days ago
School funding changes soon, prison union wants more security, drug abuse costs employers
School superintendents will hear
about Gov. John Kasich’s school funding proposal Thursday. The
proposal, which will change how all of Ohio’s schools are publicly
funded, will be released to the wider public Feb. 4. Many school
officials are bracing for the worst, according to Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Rob Nichols previously told CityBeat
that the proposal is “a big undertaking”: “Many governors have tried
before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s something
we have to take our time with and get it done right.” Ohio’s largest prison staff union is asking Kasich’s administration to increase the amount of prison security officers
following a late December report from the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction. The report found a correlation
between rising prison violence and a decrease in prison security staff,
affirming a position the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has
held for years.
A Journal News report found substance abuse comes at a heavy loss
for Ohio employers, including more workplace injuries, higher medical
costs, more absenteeism and reduced productivity. Some experts advocate
for drug testing to lower the costs, while others
argue drug testing can often affect innocent, responsible drug users.
Employers are much more likely to test for marijuana over alcohol, even
though multiple studies show cannabis is less addictive and
The flu epidemic may be leveling off in Ohio. The state
health department revealed the amount of hospitalizations involving the
flu have plateaued, but the department cautions the calm could be temporary.
The women’s sections of county and regional jails are facing higher levels of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is a result of a 2011 law that enables fourth- and
fifth-degree felons to be held at county jails instead of state prisons.
A new online tool reveals the salaries of public school teachers and staff.
The extensive audit of Ohio schools and their attendance information will be released Feb. 11. The preliminary reports found Cincinnati Public Schools were clean. The investigation into attendance fraud began when Lockland schools in Hamilton County were caught falsifying attendance data.
A new poll found an overwhelming majority of Kentucky parents favor raising the school dropout age to 18, up from the current age of 16.
Ohio gas prices are still rising.
Researchers made super-realistic lung tissue with levitating cells. The development allows researchers to better study how toxins affect the lungs.