Gov. John Kasich to roll out education reform bill (VIDEO)

Dems hope it includes all-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes

by Capital Bureau Chief Marc Kovac Published:

COLUMBUS — Democrats in the Ohio House hope Gov. John Kasich includes all-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes and charter school accountability in his education reform bill.

And restored funding for districts.

"If Gov. Kasich is serious about education reform, his plan must focus on these areas and address historical deep cuts to the schools in his last budget," said Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Democrat from Toledo. "When spending on schools is reduced as much as it was in the last budget cycle, new state programs become unfunded mandates."

She added, "Schools need the proper tools and the proper funding to do their jobs."

Fedor joined state Reps. Debbie Phillips, from Albany, and Matt Lundy, from Lorain, during a press conference at the Statehouse Wednesday.

The three have not been involved in the behind-the-scenes development of the governor's proposal, which will be unveiled during a series of afternoon events today.

Kasich's administration has been tight-lipped about the plan, with few firm details released but lots of hints offered.

The governor frequently cites the plan instituted in the Cleveland school district as a model for others to follow.

That plan is designed to reward high-performing schools, facilitate the creation of new schools and close down schools that are failing. It includes provisions for a new funding model, a year-round school calendar, merit pay for teachers and a revamped central schools office.

In recent months, Kasich also has called for increased interaction between schools and private businesses, providing more career preparation for students at younger ages.

Kasich will present his new plan to reporters early in the afternoon at a Columbus-area hotel. A subsequent conference call and town hall meeting are scheduled for later in the day.

House Speaker Bill Batchelder, a Republican from Medina, and Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina, both said they discussed the plan with the administration. They declined to offer too many specifics Wednesday, other than to say they were generally supportive of what they've heard.

"It certainly sounds like a good start," Faber said, adding, "I haven't seen all the details, but... I think so far what I've seen from the governor has been well done."

"I think you'll be impressed with some of it," Batchelder said. "He's trying to do some things that I think are going to be helpful to young people, particularly in urban areas. ... Obviously, there's some other subjects that are going to cause problems in both caucuses. For example, the idea of a whole new medical system for the world, I guess. Some of those kinds of things are going to be difficult for the different caucuses to deal with."

House Democrats on Wednesday said they hoped for a seat at the table during the coming deliberations.

"We are hopeful that there are going to be things in the reform package that we'll be able to support," Phillips said, adding, "There need to be real reforms that are based on the evidence of what works to help students improve academically. It can't just be rhetoric and hope that changing things is somehow going to produce a better result."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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