A Letter from Chad Hilliker

Below is copy of a letter that Loveland City School District Superintendent Chad Hilliker recently sent to the members of the Ohio House and Senate Education Committee and the House and Senate members who represent the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network.  The Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network is helping to lead a statewide grassroots initiative to restore local control of Ohio’s public schools.

Letter from Chad Hilliker

As a member of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network, I am contacting you regarding our concerns with maintaining local control of issues that should be determined by local boards of education and the school districts they represent.  Often there are ideas that are presented in House and Senate bills that would be good for some schools but not all schools.  Often when these ideas are put into legislation they have consequences that are not considered as part of the process.  Many of these ideas cause schools to spend more money to carry out the law.  Help us keep decision making with the people who were elected by their local constituents to determine what is best for their schools.  Let me share with you a few issues that have been brought up in discussions with legislators across our state.

Recently Senator Cliff Hite visited with groups across the state to discuss the issue of pay-to-participate for schools.  It seems that the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Senator Hite believe pay-to-participate inhibits students who are low- or middle-class from participating in music, sports or clubs for schools from being involved in extra-curricular activities.  While the argument seems logical, it does not take into consideration what truly happens in school districts across the state.  Districts use pay-to-participate fees to help offset the cost of activities for their local tax payers.  Most school districts have ways to make sure that any student who wishes to participate in a sport will be able to be part of the activity.  This includes waiving fees for free and reduced lunch students as well as offering a sliding scale for some students.  Also many communities have organizations that will pay for students who do not have the funds to participate.  This issue is definitely a local control issue.  Each district sets amounts based upon its needs.  In Southwest Ohio fees range from $50 to $400 and many districts also have a cap for families who have children who participate in multiple activities.

We have also heard that there has been discussion once again about a mandated school calendar.  This is an issue that should definitely be left up to local board of educations to determine.  The state has already defined a minimum number of hours that schools are to be in session per year.  Each district in Ohio determines its calendar based upon the needs of its community.  There is no logical reason that there should be any discussion or legislation that defines the school calendar.

Also, the House Education Committee recently passes HB 113, sponsored by Representatives Cheryl Grossman and Nathan Manning that would require the instruction of CPR and the use of AEDs as a requirement for graduation.  While we believe this is a positive effort, it should not be mandated for schools to do it.  CPR training would cost all school districts in the state of Ohio money and instructional time.  It should be the choice of school districts to determine if they wish to instruct students in CPR and AED training.  If there are organizations that wish to support the promotion of CPR training and AED use, they should contact local boards of education.  This would just become another unfunded mandate if it were to become law.

We ask that you please support local control by school boards for decisions that should be made at a local level.  If any of these ideas were to become legislated, it would cost our tax payers money for things that should truly be determined by the community and the boards of education that they have elected.

If you were to have additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

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