With about 100 protesters chanting outside, Gov. John Kasich signed into law yesterday a bill that requires Columbus City Schools to place a tax levy on the ballot in November that would raise money for both district and charter schools. The law also creates an independent district auditor and gives the Columbus mayor the power to sponsor charters.
With about 100 protesters chanting outside, Gov. John Kasich signed into law yesterday a bill that requires Columbus City Schools to place a tax levy on the ballot in November that would raise money for both district and charter schools.
The law also creates an independent district auditor and gives the Columbus mayor the power to sponsor charters.
“We’ve got to ask the people to have trust again,” Kasich said.
While the protesters marched around Indianola K-8 School in Clintonville as police officers watched, it was clear that not all were there because of the bill. Some were speaking out against fracking because of drinking-water concerns, and others were protesting cutting off state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Still, it was a contentious birth of a law that hinges on whether district voters pull together in November.
“We’re not going to quit, no matter what happens in November, but we need this to pass,” Kasich said during an afternoon signing ceremony at Indianola.
“Who does not want these kids to have a chance? Everybody out there that’s all steamed up, calm down. Columbus schools are on the move.”
A committee has recommended a 24 percent increase in property taxes that would cost the owner of a $100,000 residence about $315 more annually. Of the 9.01 new mills, 1 mill — or about $8.5 million a year — would be given to partnering high-performing charter schools. The Columbus Board of Education is set to take up the recommendation at a meeting today.
Kasich, a Republican, said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, a Democrat, was instrumental in getting the law passed, although it took him “out of his comfort zone a little bit.”
“We’re here today to seek to fix our schools for the sake of our children,” Coleman said, calling the law a step toward making Columbus a better city.
“We’ve got to continue to stack hands, and hold hands and hug one another,” said Alex Fischer, president of the Columbus Partnership, a business group that supported Coleman’s Education Commission in recommending changes to the district. Fischer praised union and business leaders for coming together, but he noted that the effort is only halfway home.
Dozens of protesters lined the street near the school carrying signs in opposition not only to the Columbus schools bill but also the abortion restrictions that Kasich signed into law as part of the state budget.
At least two undercover State Highway Patrol officers assigned to protect Kasich walked among the protesters. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols would not discuss why the officers mingled with the protesters.
Maureen Reedy, a retired Upper Arlington teacher who lost a bid for state representative in November, marched to oppose sharing property taxes with charter schools, which she said are overwhelmingly unsuccessful and secretive about spending.
“People (with kids in district schools) are in conscious conflict about whether or not to vote for this levy,” Reedy said. “It’s very clever. You vote against it, you vote against your kids."
Dispatch Reporter Joe Vardon contributed to this story.