It’s hard to believe, but another school term has begun. With summer winding down and more school buses on the streets, students all across Ohio are entering the classroom again or beginning a new chapter in their educational journey. College students and those in vocational or tech schools are also gearing up for a new school year. As state legislators, one of our top priorities is ensuring that our children are able to receive a quality education that sets them up for future success.
The Ohio House has been making significant efforts to achieve this goal of providing a good education for the next generation of leaders, innovators, and citizens. We strive to equip them with the skills and character required to take on these roles in a continuously changing world and workforce. It is our responsibility to provide a reliable foundation, and this commitment is reflected in the recently passed state biennial budget.
Even through a tight budget cycle, we prioritized state funding for school districts. We worked to raise per-pupil funding from $6,000 to $6,010 and reward high-performing educational service centers (ESCs) with $26 per student, up from the $24 per student other ESCs are granted. We were also able to make sure that a majority of schools will not lose state funding for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, as districts need these funds to provide an optimal academic experience for students.
Higher education and the workforce were also important considerations in our budget deliberations. In order to increase college affordability and cost transparency, we instituted tuition controls that keep in place the tuition freeze for undergraduates and mandate that colleges and universities study textbook costs and provide an annual report of findings to the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Finally, it was important for us to invest in programs that equip graduates for their career field through various services. Short-term certificates also allow jobseekers to enter the workforce quickly so they can provide for their families.
The state legislature seeks to improve the quality of education in Ohio so that all students can reach their full potential. A good education is a win for everyone: individuals, their families, and the economy. As we embark on yet another school year, I hope these measures in the budget will be beneficial to you and that you keep pursuing your passions and dreams.
Steve Huffman currently is serving his second term as state representative for the 80th Ohio House District, which covers Miami County and parts of Darke County. He also is the former Miami County Coroner.