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Kasich aims for higher performance in schools with new legislation

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Last summer, Ohio Gov. John Kasich endorsed a funding plan for Cleveland schools developed by the city’s Mayor, Frank Jackson. The Cleveland plan, a necessary jump start to a district listed 608 out of 611 Ohio school systems in academic performance, was written into law as House Bill 525.

The governor was a large proponent of HB-525 while it passed through the legislature. Now Kasich has expressed his intent to take at least part of the Cleveland plan statewide.

Under his developing school-funding formula, Kasich aims to give Ohio schools the option to tie teacher salaries more closely to performance in lieu of experience. This new plan, announced ahead of the governor’s yet to be unveiled 2014-15 budget, would see that teachers are rewarded greater pay incentives for fulfilling and exceeding expectations in the classroom.

Although the details of this most recent education funding reform are still scarce, Kasich has outlined the basics at town hall meetings and to superintendents across Ohio.

“I’m a big believer that you have to pay people more who do excellent jobs,” said Kasich at Hamilton Elementary School, where he signed a similar education-reforming piece of legislation.

The altered pay schedule, described as “differentiated” awards, pay raises to teachers pending acceptable results from their students and after a series of evaluations.  Though poor performers may not receive raises, their pay may not be lowered unless a pay reduction is a measure in a collective bargaining agreement.

There is also a handicap of sorts, granted to those teachers in districts recognized as harsher teaching environments. These teachers are still eligible for pay increases, contingent upon whether they receive exactable marks during their evaluations.

Kasich and others working with his administration have heralded their formula as an equalizer among Ohio school districts.

Speaking on a video previewing his upcoming budget, Kasich said, “In terms of school funding, I want the child, no matter where they live, no matter what the wealth is, to be able to compete effectively with the child in every other district. So if you’re poor, you’ve got to have the right to compete with the resources needed for a child in a district that’s wealthy.”

Tim Keen, the Office of Budget and Management Director, provided a slightly more fleshed out explanation of how the Kasich school funding plan will work. Speaking in an interview, he said, “We have spent significant time looking at developing a school funding formula that will efficiently target state resources to those districts with a lesser local capacity to raise revenue to provide [for] education of the students in those districts.”

Placing such great emphasis on student performance can be a tricky situation, particularly when people’s livelihoods are at stake. However, since taking up residence in the Governor’s mansion, Kasich and those working with him in Columbus have been running a significantly tighter ship. With resources no longer what they once were, pay incentives are sure to be an enticing option.

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