The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - Jsiegel@dis­patch.com @phront­page

As the ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy su­per­in­ten­dents told one com­mit­tee last Wed­nes­day why they sup­ported the merger pro­posed in House Bill 512 — a bill that the Buck­eye As­so­ci­a­tion of School Ad­min­is­tra­tors op­poses — tech­ni­cal cen­ters were ben­e­fit­ing from an un­usual leg­isla­tive move in the hear­ing room next door.

That morn­ing, House Bill 166 was amended — or, more ac­cu­rately, rewrit­ten — to give tech­ni­cal cen­ters perks they had been seek­ing for more than a year.

The re­vised House Bill 166 cat­e­go­rizes tech­ni­cal cen­ters as higher-ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions, al­low­ing adults to qual­ify for the Ohio Col­lege Op­por­tu­nity Grant and giv­ing the schools ac­cess to some state grant pro­grams.

Both bills are spon­sored by Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tif­fin, a mem­ber of the House lead­er­ship.

Reineke and Will Vo­rys, a lob­by­ist for the Ohio As­so­ci­a­tion of Ca­reer-Tech­ni­cal Su­per­in­ten­dents, both said the tim­ing was co­in­ci­den­tal and the bills have no con­nec­tion.

Reineke said he has been work­ing on ca­reer-tech is­sues for four years.

“We’re try­ing to help (the schools) help these adults get schol­ar­ships or grants so they can get re­trained for the work­place. There’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing com­bin­ing the two” bills, Reineke said. He added that he was of­fended that any­one would sug­gest oth­er­wise. “Ca­reertech is one of my pas­sions be­cause we need these jobs so badly.”

Out­side of Reineke and

Ka­sich ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, most of the tes­ti­mony in fa­vor of the merger bill came over two weeks from ca­reer cen­ters: Pick­awayRoss, Tri-County, Delaware Area, Scioto County, Apollo (Allen County), Penta (Wood County), and Grant (Cler­mont County).

Those tes­ti­fy­ing against the pro­posal in­clude home­school­ing par­ents and ad­vo­cates of tra­di­tional pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion — teach­ers, su­per­in­ten­dents and school boards.

Sup­port­ers of char­ter schools are di­vided: The Ford­ham In­sti­tute sup­ports the bill, while the Ohio Coali­tion for Qual­ity Ed­u­ca­tion op­poses it.

Although ca­reer-tech su­per­in­ten­dents have tes­ti­fied in fa­vor of the merger, Jay Smith, di­rec­tor of leg­isla­tive ser­vices of the Ohio School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion, said he knows of no ca­reer-tech board that has passed a res­o­lu­tion sup­port­ing it. He said he has talked to ca­reer-tech board mem­bers who agree with his group’s op­po­si­tion.

Be­fore last week, House Bill 166 was con­sid­ered dead leg­is­la­tion; its work­forcede­vel­op­ment pieces were passed as parts of other bills.

But Rep. Mike Duf­fey, R-Wor­thing­ton, chair­man of the House Higher Ed­u­ca­tion & Work­force Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee, said Reineke and Vo­rys asked him re­cently to swap out House Bill 166’s text for new lan­guage. Duf­fey said he was told the is­sue wasn’t con­tro­ver­sial.

“Some­times you should know bet­ter when peo­ple tell you that some­thing is not con­tro­ver­sial,” he said.

Duf­fey said he shared the new pro­posal with groups that in­cluded com­mu­nity col­leges and the In­ter-Univer­sity Coun­cil, and they raised con­cerns.

“We have a lot of ques­tions on the ram­i­fi­ca­tions,” said Tom Walsh, vice pres­i­dent of the Ohio As­so­ci­a­tion of Com­mu­nity Col­leges.

Tech­ni­cal cen­ters fall un­der the Depart­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion but are not post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions. Chang­ing that would open ac­cess to fund­ing for new ini­tia­tives and show ac­cep­tance on the same level as com­mu­nity and tech­ni­cal col­leges, said Bill Bussey, di­rec­tor of the Tech­ni­cal Cen­ter Divi­sion of the Ohio As­so­ci­a­tion of Ca­reerTech­ni­cal Su­per­in­ten­dents.

Walsh said the bill raises ques­tions about process, ac­cred­i­ta­tion, re­port­ing and tu­ition caps.

“It’s a pretty big, sub­stan­tive change to de­fine a whole new en­tity as pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion,” he said. “No one ever talked to us about this. It’s just raised a lot of ques­tions about what’s their goal and what is the im­pact.”

Duf­fey and oth­ers also ques­tion the im­pact of broad­en­ing ac­cess to the Ohio Col­lege Op­por­tu­nity Grant, the state’s only need­based fi­nan­cial aid.

“If you add 1,000 stu­dents to an ecosys­tem, then it changes the award amount to all the other stu­dents,” Duf­fey said.

Reineke said it all re­lates to his goals. “We’re just try­ing to re­train peo­ple for the work­force.”

But pas­sage of House Bill 166 is in doubt. “Right now, I don’t think it has a very strong like­li­hood of get­ting out of com­mit­tee,” Duf­fey said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.