The Ohio teachers union wants Gov. Mike DeWine to begin using the state’s rainy day fund and called on the U.S. Senate to pass a new stimulus package to make state schools safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ohio Education Association said districts across the state face a budget crisis because of the pandemic and struggle to meet health and safety guidelines.
“Ohio educators want nothing more than to be in their classrooms with their students, but only when it is safe, and our members are doing everything in their power to meet the educational and health and safety needs of all of their students, both in-person and remotely,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “Unfortunately, the scope of what local district leaders and educators can do is quite limited, especially given the budget crisis currently facing our state’s school districts. Only the state and federal governments can provide the direction and funding needed to implement the measurers necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 right now.”
Over the weekend, teachers in one of the state’s 30 largest school district in a Columbus suburb ended a strike which centered around contract negotiations and safety. Also, teachers at another large Columbus suburban district questioned its board’s safety plan.
At a news conference last week, DeWine said he expects to use Ohio’s $2.7 billion rainy day fund over the next couple of years to help meet shortfalls in several areas of state government. He did not commit to any particular timeframe or funding area.
The teacher’s union, though, says the money should be used now to help schools meet safety guidelines and to help make up for what it calls inequitable school funding.
“Because of Ohio’s unconstitutional, inequitable school funding system that has created huge state and local funding disparities, some districts are able to keep their communities safer than others,” DiMauro said. “Where Ohio’s students and educators live and work should not determine their relative health and safety.”
The union, which represents 122,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals, wants the state to mandate remote learning only for districts in counties with high infection rates. At the same time, it’s calling on Congress to pass more federal aid.
Originally posted on The Center Square. Republished with permission.