Thank you, members of the Democratic Caucus of the Ohio Legislature, for reaching out to members of the Ohio Congressional delegation on behalf of urgently needed additional federal COVID-19 relief funding for our state’s public schools.
On June 4, Ohio legislative Democrats sent a formal letter to Ohio’s Congressional representatives and senators “to request that you… approve new funding for local school systems in the next COVID-19 supplemental appropriations bill. Parents, teachers, and students in the communities… we represent are depending on us to build the foundation for a more resilient future.”
In their letter, Ohio’s state legislators reminded their counterparts in Congress that Governor Mike DeWine has already cut $775 million from the fiscal budget that ends June 30, “including $300 million from public schools and $76 million from public colleges and universities. These cuts are already causing immense shortfalls for public school districts….”
Noting that Ohio is one of the states where funding for public schools still falls short of the pre-2008-recession level, Ohio’s legislative Democrats ask, “that Congress increase investment in the Education Stabilization Fund by at least $100 billion for K-12 education to local districts to weather this storm.” The letter argues that public schools will need additional money to take precautions for the safe opening of school next fall and that, in case schools need to rely on remote learning during a second wave of the pandemic, many school districts need to further expand what remains limited access to technology. They add: “We ask that Congress provide additional funds to the states for Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act students in the 2020-2021 school year, so that schools may offer summer school and after-school programs. We want to provide our children an opportunity to make up for lost time, so we must invest in increased services.”
In their letter, Ohio’s legislative Democrats “thank the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the HEROES Act and urge the U.S. Senate to pass it without further delay.”
In a statement on its website, Ohio Public Education Partners thanks Senator Teresa Fedor and Representative Phil Robinson for leading this initiative on behalf of their colleagues: “Sen. Fedor moved the initiative forward in the Ohio Senate and Representative Phil Robinson reinforced the effort with the Ohio House, and 44 members of the Democratic caucus of the Ohio Legislature signed… (the) letter.”
A coalition of members of the Wisconsin State Legislature sent a similar letter to the Wisconsin Congressional delegation in May.
The Director of Ohio Public Education Partners, Jeanne Melvin hopes other state legislatures will formally present the desperate fiscal condition of local school districts to their Congressional delegations: “Public Education Partners joins Wisconsin Public Education Network to strongly encourage other state legislatures to consider sending letters to Congress with the same message. Our nation’s public school districts will continue to experience a tremendous loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there will likely be massive funding freezes in the second year of the fiscal biennium. These shortfalls will be devastating to public schools without appropriate federal aid.”