Kasich unveils new plan for Ohio schools, pledges no district would lose state funds

Kasich: Plan is student-centered, constitutional

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Gov. John Kasich Thursday unveiled his much-anticipated education plan with a pledge that none of Ohio's school districts will receive less state money than they did last year as a result of the new strategy.

Under the new plan, called "Achievement Everywhere," Ohio would invest more than $1.2 billion in additional state funds for public school districts over the next two years. The plan is part of the governor's 2014-15 budget proposal.

The additional state funds would be used to give property-poor districts more resources to educate their students. To view the allocation of those funds, go to http://jobsbudget.ohio.gov/documents/Preliminary-County.pdf.

The money also would be channeled to districts to help cover the costs incurred educating students who are disabled or poor, as well as those who don't speak English fluently and students designated as gifted. There also would be a separate pot of money available to encourage innovation that ultimately would reduce schools' expenses.

"Achievement Everywhere" also would expand school choice for young children attending schools ranked as failing by the state.

"If you're poor, you're going to get more. If you're rich, you're going to get less. If you have disabled students, you're going to get help. If you've got gifted students, you're going to get help," Kasich said during a question and answer session at a special meeting of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators in Columbus. "This is not some political deal."

Richard Ross, the governor's director of 21st century education, said the proposal shouldn't be viewed as a funding plan.

"We call this and consider this an education improvement plan," he said.

Kasich said the plan is fully funded and that he and his advisors believe it will pass constitutional muster.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the state's system of funding schools was unconstitutional. Every governor who has held office since the ruling has proposed ways to address the problem.

Kasich insisted Thursday that his plan could work if all the adults involve focus on the needs of the boys and girls of Ohio.

"We have to be in this for one basic reason," Kasich said. "The Lord is watching us as we make an effort to give our children the knowledge they want in order to be successful and pursue their God-given destinies."

After the presentation, the governor's communications staff sent out some initial responses from school superintendents.

One was from Keith Brown, superintendent of Washington Court House City Schools. In the statement relayed by the governor's office, Brown said: " It is clear to me, and many others in education, that we cannot continue to do the things in the same way we have always done them in Ohio. Gov. Kasich's plan is a new beginning and I, for one, welcome that."

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