LIMA — Back in 2018, state Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, asked a group of career center superintendents: “What are the roadblocks the state puts in your way?”
More than a year later, Ohio’s General Assembly is close to removing them through Senate Bill 89, a career center deregulation bill.
To highlight Huffman’s bill, the state legislator toured Apollo Career Center Tuesday together with Apollo Superintendent Keith Horner.
Huffman, who sponsored the bill, said the bill’s goal is to remove some of the regulations established by state agencies and legislators that restrict the operational efficiencies of joint vocational school districts like Apollo. While many of the rules and regulations had originated for some purpose, today many career centers are unaware why such regulations were first put in place.
“Now a lot of people who did (follow the regulations) were doing it without knowing why,” Huffman said.
While Horner couldn’t put an exact dollar figure on how much would be saved if the bill is approved by the state, the bill should reduce a number of operational redundancies and make it easier for teachers to carry over certifications from one career center to another.
“It makes our lives easier and it allows us to serve our kids and the community better,” Horner said.
Like most typical deregulation bills, the bill itself establishes a wide range of small bureaucratic changes. Some examples include giving boards of education a wider window to schedule their organizational meetings, permitting JVSDs to receive compensation of property tax foregone due to an enterprise zone tax exemption, allowing students to potentially receive more college credits, easing career-technical education certification rules and permitting career-technical planning districts to receive STEM school equivalent designations.
Huffman said polls show that Ohio residents largely support expanding career center programs. While the state can always increase allocations to such programs, bills like S.B. 89 help in allowing career centers like Apollo to use the dollars they receive more efficiently.
“I know they’re little things, but for the guys who are running (career centers), these are big things,” Huffman said.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill at the end of October, and it has since sat in the Houses’s Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Huffman said he believes the House will pass the bill soon, when it will then head to the governor’s desk pending final approval.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.