0 Comments · Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The state auditor Oct. 4 criticized both
the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and a handful of school districts
in an interim report. The report, which will be finalized in the coming
months as the investigation is completed, gave some early findings for
the ongoing investigation into attendance scrubbing, the practice of
“removing students from enrollment without lawful reason.”
by German Lopez
Today is the last day to register to vote, and in-person
early voting is underway. Register to vote and vote at your nearest
board of election, which can be located here.Hamilton County commissioners agree on not raising the
sales tax. That effectively rules out two of three plans laid out by the
county administrator. The one plan left would not cut public safety, but it would make cuts to the courts, criminal justice system, administrative departments, commissioner departments and the board of elections.It seems other news outlets are now scrutinizing online
schools. A Reuters report pointed out state officials — including some
in Ohio — are not happy with results from e-schools. Even Barbara
Dreyer, CEO of the e-school company Connections Academy, told Reuters
she’s disappointed with performance at e-schools. A CityBeat look into e-schools in August found similarly disappointing results.
Ohio Democrats are asking federal and state officials for
an investigation into Murray Energy, the Ohio-based coal company that
has been accused of coercing employees into contributing to Republican
political campaigns. In the statement calling for action, Ohio
Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said, “Thanks to this report,
now we know why coal workers and miners have lent themselves to the
rallies, ads, and political contributions. They’ve been afraid.”
Councilman Chris Seelbach is following up on information
obtained during public safety meetings. The most consistent concerns
Seelbach heard were worries about loitering and young people breaking
The state auditor says the Ohio Department of Education
(ODE) could save $430,000 a year if it moved its student information
database in-house. Current law prohibits ODE from having access to the
data for privacy reasons, but State Auditor Dave Yost says it’s
unnecessary and “wastes time and money.”It seems Duke Energy is quickly integrating into its recent merger with Progress Energy. The company's information technology, nuclear and energy-supply departments are fully staffed and functional.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is renovating and restoring the Art Academy on the building’s west side.
It might not feel like it sometimes, but parking in Cincinnati is still pretty cheap.
Scientific research is increasingly pointing to lead as an explanation for people’s crazy grandparents. Research indicates even small programs cleaning up lead contamination can have massive economic and education returns.
Kings Island is selling off pieces of the Son of Beast.
The troubled roller coaster was torn down after years of being shut
The “Jeopardy!” Ohio Online Test is today. If you’re ever on the show, give a shout-out to CityBeat.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:51 AM | Permalink
Interim report highlights attendance scrubbing in a minority of school districts
The state auditor today criticized both the Ohio Department of
Education (ODE) and a handful of school districts in an interim
report. The report, which will be finalized in the coming months as the investigation is completed, gave some early findings for the ongoing investigation into attendance scrubbing, the
practice of “removing students from enrollment without lawful reason.”
Dave Yost, Ohio’s state auditor, has been investigating
claims that schools are scrubbing attendance data for
better results in Ohio’s school report card, which grades schools and
school districts around the state. The grading process helps establish policies for
different schools, such as funding needs and whether they require local or state intervention.
results of the investigation, which began after Lockland Schools in
Hamilton County was caught reporting fraudulent data, found a
fundamental conflict of interest in a system in which schools are “on
the honor system” to report their own data.
“The current system relies upon local schools and school
districts — but these are the very entities that are interested in the
outcome of the accountability measures,” the report said, before
labeling the setup “a classic conflict of interest.”
The report advised the state government to reform ODE to
introduce “independent oversight.” Specifically, Yost asked for
oversight to be transferred to “an independent agency or commission
appointed by the General Assembly” instead of relying on schools to be
honest. This oversight should be conducted throughout the year, not just
at the end of the school year like it's done today, according to
The state auditor’s report also asked ODE to develop
better methods for tracking students. In particular, the report suggested
using SSIDs — ID numbers that are given to students in the Ohio’s
school database — to track all withdrawals and transfers for students.
But those were only a few of the many suggestions. The report laid out other proposals: Set clear attendance rules for school
boards, provide due process to students being kicked out for poor
attendance, require stricter attendance records at each school, stop
providing school report card data early, create a centralized source or
manual for accountability resources and establish a statewide student
information system with clearer uniform rules and standards.
John Charlton, spokesperson for ODE, says the state will
look into enforcing “additional safeguards.” He says ODE already
“upgraded” EMIS, which is the system used by schools to report data,
this year, but more is coming.
“We’ve been cooperative with the auditor’s office, and
we’ve established a productive working relationship about his inquiry,”
he says. “We’ll take the input that’s provided from the auditor’s office
into consideration when we make upgrades for next year’s (EMIS)
But the report did not just blame ODE and the state
government for failures. It also singled out a few school districts with
evidence of school scrubbing. Columbus City School District, Toledo
City School District, Cleveland Municipal School District, Marion City
School District and Campbell City School District were the main
offenders. Other school districts were found to have errors but no scrubbing.“We’re actually encouraged but not surprised that this
interim report shows that most Ohio schools and districts that have been
visited to date have been following the rules for reporting data to the
state,” Charlton says.Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) was partially investigated as part of the auditor's interim report, but results for CPS were found to be “indeterminate” as the school district finishes gathering all its data.The full report can be read here.
After a decade of budget cuts, CPS looks to Issue 42 for stability
3 Comments · Wednesday, October 3, 2012
By the end of November 2011, Cincinnati Public Schools
(CPS) knew it would soon have bigger financial problems. The school
district had just lost the battle for Issue 32, a permanent levy that
would have raised $49.5 million for CPS every year.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting begins in Ohio today. Find your nearest polling booth here.
Cincinnati could change how it gathers trash in the
future. City officials, under the request of City Manager Milton Dohoney
Jr., are looking for a way to make trash collection more automated and
reduce the amount of manual labor required to pick up trash. Michael
Robinson, director of public services, described the possible changes to
WVXU: “Implement a new cart system using semi-automated trucks as well
as automated units to reduce our workers compensation claims.” The
changes would save the city money.For the second year in a row, statewide college enrollment
declined. The two-year drop is the first time college enrollment has
dropped since the 1990s.
Casinos are popping up around Ohio — including the
Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati — but Ohioans do not have a gambling
problem. A new survey, which seeks to establish a baseline to find out
the impact of new casinos around the state, found problematic gambling
is fairly uncommon in Ohio with about 250,000 Ohio adults, or nearly 3
percent of Ohioans, reporting problems.Cincinnati-based Macy’s will be hiring 80,000 new employees for the holidays.
Several Ohio testing centers will be partnering up with
the GED Testing Service to allow taking GED tests online. The GED test,
which is accepted by most U.S. employers and colleges, gives a second
chance to adults who did not get a high school diploma.
JobsOhio, Gov. John Kasich’s privatized economic
development program, suffered a serious setback Friday when an Ohio
Supreme Court ruling dismissed efforts to clarify the program’s legal
status. Critics of JobsOhio say the program is unconstitutional and
illegal, and their complaints have often been legitimized by lower
courts. State officials hoped the Ohio Supreme Court would put the issue
to rest, but the court said a decision would have to be given by lower
Josh Mandel, state treasurer and Republican U.S.
senatorial candidate, doesn’t seem to be handling the stress of the
campaign very well. In a newly released video, Mandel is seen on an
elevator in an awkward confrontation that gets a little physical with a
campaign tracker. The tracker’s story was confirmed by a reporter at The Columbus Dispatch, who was also on the elevator and can be seen and heard in the video.
The amount of abortions in Ohio is down 12 percent, according to a new report by the Ohio Department of Health.
A Xavier study found trust in government and business is on the rise. The increase is typical in a growing economy.
About 60 percent of doctors would quit their jobs today if
given the chance. Not a good sign for a health-care system that was
expecting a doctor shortage even before Obamacare was passed.
U.S. home prices rose the most they have in six years. The
year-over-year increase of 4.6 percent is a potential sign of a
Want to increase your productivity? Look at cute kitties.
by German Lopez
In an ad accusing Josh Mandel, a Republican, of
lying, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign team may have lied,
according to PolitiFact. The U.S. senatorial campaign for Ohio’s senate
seat has been filled with dishonesty, but it usually comes from Mandel. The dishonesty seems to be hurting Mandel more than Brown; Mandel is currently down 7.5 points in aggregate polling numbers.
Mandel is being taken to court by liberal blog
Plunderbund. The blog claims Mandel has made it extra difficult to get
public records.Preliminary data for Ohio schools was released yesterday.
Some data is still being held back while an investigation into
fraudulent reporting from some schools is finished, but the data gives some insight into how
schools performed during the 2011-2012 school year. The data can be
found here. From a local angle, the data shows Cincinnati Public
Schools (CPS) did not meet “adequate yearly progress,” a federal standard that
measures progress in student subgroups, such as minority groups; but CPS
did meet standards for “value-added growth,” which measures the
expected progress in state testing for all students between the third
and eighth grades.
City Council approved the $29 million financing plan for
the streetcar yesterday. The plan will use $15 million from the Blue Ash
airport deal to move utility lines and pipes. The city claims the $15
million, which was originally promised to neighborhood projects, will
be reimbursed by Duke Energy once the city settles a conflict with the
energy company. Duke and the city are currently arguing over who has to
pay to move the utility lines and pipes.
An Ohio state representative is asking the federal
government to monitor the election more closely. Rep. Alicia Reece, a
Cincinnati Democrat, is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to send monitors
to the state to ensure no funny business goes on in voting booths on
Nov. 6. The request is partly in response to a recent court ruling
that forces Ohio to count provisional ballots if the ballots were
brought around by poll worker errors.
Ohio’s ability to stop political lies was upheld
yesterday. The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes
(COAST) tried to put an end to the government power, which COAST claimed
was censorship, by taking it to court, but a U.S. judge upheld the
ability. The judge, who is a former chairman of the Hamilton County
Republican Party, said COAST did not properly display that its speech was held
down by the law. Considering some of COAST’s tweets, the judge is
E.W. Scripps Co. will host a job fair in Cincinnati Oct. 10 to fill 100 digital jobs.
The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the rights of lesbian
ex-couples to set visitation times. The court said non-parents are
allowed to participate in visitations during child custody proceedings.
Ohio might expand Medicaid, but not to the extent asked
for by Obamacare. That’s what the state’s Medicaid director said
yesterday, anyway. A previous study found Medicaid expansions improved and might
have saved lives in other states, and other studies have found Medicaid
expansions may save the state money by cutting uncompensated costs.
Pundits really dug into Mitt Romney the past few days over his poor poll numbers in Ohio. The Business Courier asked if Romney has already lost Ohio. Politico said Romney’s biggest hurdle to the White House is Ohio. The New Republic ran an article with six theories as to what led to Romney’s losses in the state. The Cleveland Plain Dealer
pointed out both presidential candidates were stumping at a pivotal time in northern Ohio yesterday.
Aggregate polling paints a consistently bad picture for Romney in Ohio;
he is currently down four points.
But Romney probably isn’t helping matters. In an Ohio
rally Tuesday, he admitted President Barack Obama didn’t raise taxes in his
Gov. John Kasich signed a series of bills shoring up
Ohio’s public pension system yesterday. The laws will cut benefits
and raise eligibility requirements, but state officials insist the new
laws will mostly affect future retirees.
NASA wants samples from Mars, and it has a plan. The new plan may require a robot-to-human hand-off in space.
by German Lopez
City Council approved a $29 million plan that will shift $15 million
from the Blue Ash airport deal to
move utility lines and pipes in order to accommodate for streetcar
tracks. The money will be reimbursed if a conflict with Duke Energy is settled in the city’s favor. The city is currently trying to resolve the conflict over who has to pay for moving utility lines
and pipes. If the city wins out, Duke will have to pay up, and the money
from the Blue Ash airport deal will be put back
where it belongs. If Duke wins out, that money could be lost forever — a
worry Chris Smitherman voiced in the public City Council session.
Smitherman, Charlie Winburn and P.G. Sittenfeld voted against the plan,
and Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas,
Wendell Young and Chris Seelbach voted for it.CORRECTION: This blog originally said the entire $29 million plan will be reimbursed by
Duke. Only the $15 million from the Blue Ash airport deal will be
reimbursed if the city wins in the dispute.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted received a failing grade from Voters First Ohio and the Ohio Unity Coalition for the way he's handled the 2012 election. The left-leaning groups criticized Husted for taking away in-person early voting hours that were available in 2008 and issues regarding provisional ballots, wrongful terminations and misleading language on the November ballot.Stan Heffner, former state superintendent of public
instruction, won’t face criminal charges. Heffner stepped down after an
investigation found he improperly lobbied legislators in favor of
legislation that benefited a private company Heffner was employed under.
Prosecutors claim Heffner acted inappropriately, not criminally.The Controlling Board unanimously approved $4 million Monday to conduct a study to determine possible funding for the Brent Spence Bridge. The study will look at tolls and the viability of various public-private partnerships to see how the bridge will be paid for.Jungle Jim's is opening an Eastgate location today, and people are apparently really excited for it.The state launched a new website to connect Ohio job seekers and
opportunities in the energy industry. The website presents opportunities in
advanced energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and gas and oil.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be in southwest Ohio today,
and Obama will be in other parts of the state. The state is typically
considered a must-win for Romney and Ryan, but aggregate polling has looked worse lately for the Republican duo.
Speaking of Romney, he indirectly admitted he’ll have to raise
taxes on what he considers middle income. Remember when Republicans ran
on tax cuts?Another problem with global warming: Hotter days make people less productive, which greatly hurts economic output.
A Cincinnati research team found NFL players die
often to Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. The two
diseases kill NFL players four times more often than the average U.S. population, and
other neurodegenerative diseases kill them twice as often as the norm.Having sex once a week instead of once a month is the
“happiness equivalent” of making an extra $50,000 a year. Do not try
that line at home.
by German Lopez
President Barack Obama announced trade action against
China while in Cincinnati yesterday. Obama said his team had filed a
lawsuit at the World Trade Organization on the claim China is
cheating in auto trade by offering “extensive subsidies” to its
automakers and auto-part producers. China fired back with its own
lawsuit for U.S. tariffs that raise the price on a variety of Chinese
products — from steels to tires. Anti-China rhetoric has fast become the
latest flavor of the month for the Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns, and
China is not happy with it.But the presidential race raced back to gaffes over trade policy when Mother Jones
posted amazingly candid footage of Romney speaking to millionaires at a
fundraiser. In the videos, Romney straightforwardly outlines campaign
strategy. In one video, Romney said he doesn’t care about getting the
vote of the 47 percent of Americans that don’t pay taxes because he
doesn’t believe he can convince them to “take personal responsibility
and care for their lives.” The Obama team retaliated in a statement:
“It's shocking that a candidate for president of the United States would
go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that
half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to
handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their
lives. It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve
disdainfully written off half the nation.”
Ohioans love their local schools, a new survey shows. The
survey also found Ohioans trust their local school boards of education
with education-related decisions, but they really don’t trust the state
superintendent, governor or legislature.
Hamilton County courts want to go paperless. The move would save money and space and make the system more efficient.County budget meetings are still chugging along. Different
department directors are still pleading for no cuts, but the
commissioners insist cuts have to be made somewhere.Cincinnati police announced a new Taser policy. The new policy
disallows the use of frontal shots except in situations involving
self-defense and the defense of others, reinforces the fact officers
need to make sure such force is necessary and points out people have
been injured due to Taser use. The new policy was brought about due to
findings Taser use can kill in rare situations.Cincinnati launched a national design competition for the
decks over Fort Washington Way that will connect the Banks and Central
Business District.A new Hamilton County initiative to improve neighborhoods will tear down 700 dilapidated homes.The streetcar’s yearlong delay got an explanation
yesterday. A few issues are to blame, including the city’s ongoing
conflict with Duke Energy over who has to pay for moving utility lines
to accommodate for the streetcar.The amount of people on Ohio’s death row is shrinking.
After Donald Palmer’s execution, Ohio will drop to its lowest death row
population since July 1995.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted launched a mailing
campaign to clean up voter rolls. Using data from U.S. Postal Service
National Change of Address Registry, Husted mailed 70,000 former Ohioans
encouraging them to cancel their voter registration. The action is a
lot tamer than Republican-led efforts to purge voter rolls in other
states, which states like Florida, Iowa and Colorado have backed out of —
at least for now.Duke Energy unveiled its new logo.A new meta-analysis found fish oil may not live up to its health hype.NASA is now saying faster-than-light travel may be
possible and feasible. The technology would allow spaceships to travel
to Mars in minutes. Still, the theory does have some problems.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Dave Yost released an audit today looking at Value
Learning and Teaching (VLT) Academy’s 2010-2011 school year, and the
findings are not pretty. The charter school, which is located in
Cincinnati, was found to be potentially overpaying in multiple
including potential conflicts of interest.
by German Lopez
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber released its positions
on this November’s ballot issues. The chamber supports the Cincinnati
Public Schools tax levy and Hamilton County mental health and services
levy, but it does not support extending City Council’s terms to four
years. The chamber also opposes Issue 2, which would place the
redistricting process in the hands of an independent citizens commission
instead of a commission run by politicians. The chamber said it opposes
Issue 2 partially because it excludes “some Ohioans” from the
redistricting process. The excluded Ohioans are lobbyists and
politicians, who have a vested interest in redrawing district boundaries
in politically advantageous ways in a process known as
“gerrymandering.” In Cincinnati’s district, the district was redrawn by
the Republican-controlled commission to include Warren County, which
puts more emphasis on the rural vote that tends to vote Republican
instead of the urban vote that tends to vote Democrat. CityBeat
previously covered the redistricting issue here and here.Related to Issue 2, the controversial ballot language that
was approved by the state seems to be weighing down the amendment. Public Policy Polling said voters are confused by the ballot initiative.Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost found Value Learning and
Teaching (VLT) Academy, a charter school in downtown Cincinnati, to be
wasteful and unethical. According to a state audit, the school had
multiple instances in the 2010-2011 school year in which it made
excessive payments in possible conflicts of interest.In another audit, Yost also criticized his own political
party. Yost found the Ohio Republican Party accepted prohibited
contributions and improperly spent money.A recent police chase that resulted in a crash and the the injury of minors is coming under scrutiny. The cop involved was found to be in violation of department procedure.Even though he resigned abruptly, the University of
Cincinnati Board of Trustees is considering separation payments for
former UC President Greg Williams. Board Chairman Fran Barrett says the
payments will tie up “loose ends” and buyout Williams’ tenure.Gov. John Kasich is asking public colleges to collaborate
on a funding formula. He says the schools should have a better idea than the state government of
what they need. The schools previously collaborated on a construction
wishlist, which apparently impressed Kasich.A proposed state policy will force schools to keep better
track of who is kept in seclusion rooms and for how long, but the
details will be closed to the public.The fired Democrats suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted will be getting their day in court. Yesterday, a federal judge
agreed to a hearing on Sept. 21. The fired Democrats are suing Husted
after he dismissed them for attempting to extend in-person early voting,
which broke Husted’s uniform rules on voting hours.
Even Republicans are now demanding more substance from presidential candidate Mitt Romney.A North Dakota college football player says he got kicked off his
team for kissing his boyfriend.Scientists planted false short-term memories in the brains of rats.