The Republican governor joined top state education officials to launch the Straight A Fund included in Ohio’s $62 billion, two-year state operating budget. The grant program aims to reward creative ideas that significantly boost student achievement, reduce spending or target an impressive share of resources into the classroom.
Joining Kasich at the inaugural meeting of the fund’s governing board were State Superintendent Dick Ross and former State Superintendent Susan Zelman, who’s serving as fund director.
Ohio’s budget dedicated $100 million to the fund for the fiscal year that began July 1 and $150 million in the next fiscal year. Documents outlining the application and distribution process approved Wednesday by the governing board will be available at the Ohio Department of Education’s website on Friday.
Kasich selected Ross to head the nine-member board. The panel also includes Ohio House Education Chairman Gerald Stebelton, a Republican from Fairfield County; House education policy adviser Colleen Grady; Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership; Kristina Phillips-Schwartz, director of education initiatives at the Cincinnati Business Committee; and Sidney City Schools Superintendent John Scheu.
Fischer said the board “will pay special attention to proposals that promote sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness and involve innovative new ways of teaching and learning.”
The board plans to pick a slate of grant advisers with fiscal or educational experience to recommend to them the most worthy grant recipients. The panel decided Wednesday to call upon experts from around the state and country to score grant applications before they go to the advisers.
Straight A grants are available to traditional public schools, community schools, STEM schools, individual teachers and to educational consortia that could be made up of multiple schools districts, college and universities, educational service centers or private entities.
“We believe that many educators and administrators are eager for transformation and have the innovative spirit needed to improve student achievement and increase school and district operational efficiencies,” Ross said. “We are encouraging these local educators to propose ideas they can lead — or be part of — that will help our schools be more creative, effective and efficient.”