LIMA — The Lima Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution Thursday night opposing House Bill 512.
That bill seeks to consolidate the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation into a new state agency called the Department of Learning and Achievement.
The bill was introduced by Bill Reineke (R), of Tiffin, and has school boards across the state concerned about what could happen if this bill is passed.
“The feeling of House Bill 512 is that it would take power away from local governing boards and hence, people in the community who elect the members of the local boards,” said Jill Ackerman, Superintendent of Lima schools.
“It gives a politically appointed, unelected and unaccountable executive director all of the authority, and this would be a person hand-picked by the Governor. They would have a tremendous amount of power. They could unilaterally create and oversee everything from K-12 and higher and what we really see, a big issue would be too, is there would be frequent and extreme changes in policy anytime a new governor is elected. We already go through changes when a new President comes in or Governors change but they’re not as dramatic as this would be if you had one person, single-handedly having all of this power for creating, implementing and overseeing all of our aspects of education,” Ackerman said.
Pat Schymanski, president of the Elida school board, said House Bill 512 is something they oppose as well.
“I wrote a letter of opposition to SB 512 and I submitted it as testimony and I’m against it because I don’t know enough about it, and out of what’s written, my concern there is no long-term plan. Everything that the Governor and everybody’s proposing can actually be accomplished by law right now. So I don’t see any benefit by it and I’m concerned what it does is it makes education even more political than it is,” Schymanski said.
The Lima City Board of Education also passed a resolution supporting school safety and reducing violence in schools.
“We have put a tremendous amount of money into the safety and security of our schools and all of that money is funded through our general fund. That is money we know we could be using towards curriculum and direct education. We feel it would only be fair if we’re funded in a way that there is money to support the safety and security without having to try to balance out by taking money that could be used that directly affect curriculum,” Ackerman said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.