State Board of Education Gets Budget Update from Superintendent with No Mention of Planned Parenthood Being a ‘Community Partner’


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Upon their return from break, State Board of Education Members received a report from Superintendent Paolo DeMaria about the changes made in Ohio’s budget. DeMaria said he was going to, “Put a ribbon around it and also dig into a couple of key areas.”

One “key area” was $675 million for “Student Wellness and Success” funding. However, there was no mention of the fact that Planned Parenthood could be the recipient of some of those dollars intended to improve student health and wellbeing.

The Ohio Star exposed the problem in a July 30th article:

According to the Legislative Service Commission, the research and legislation writing arm of the the Ohio General Assembly, ‘…the spending requirements [for the $675 million] do not prohibit certain organizations from receiving this funding. As a result, it appears that any organization, including Planned Parenthood, could provide services for school districts or schools that are financed with student wellness and success funding and enhancement funding as long as the spending requirements are satisfied’.”

Planned Parenthood had lost access to significant amounts of tax payer funding after House Bill 294 passed in 2015. The bill prohibited most tax dollars from going to the abortion giant. The courts upheld the bill after Planned Parenthood sued. Now, with the passage of the budget and inclusion of the “Student Wellness and Success” program, Planned Parenthood could get taxpayer funded access to public school children as a “community partner” in the new initiative.

Superintendent DeMaria informed the members that total allocations for primary and secondary education are $13.08 million for fiscal year (FY) 2020, a 4.7% increase over current funding. For FY 2021, state funding will increase by another 1.1% to $13.23 million.

He broke down the major funding sources:

  • 62.6% from the General Revenue Fund
  • 16% from the federal government
  • 10.2% from revenue distribution (property tax reimbursements)
  • almost 9% from lottery profits

The explanation of the budget then moved to “Student Wellness and Success Funding.” The $675 million provided by the Legislature is broken into two parts: $275 million for 2020 and, for FY 2021, another $400 million. The money will be allocated on a per pupil basis, with schools receiving a minimum of $25,000 in FY 2020 and $36,000 in FY 2021.

DeMaria shared allowable uses for the “Student Wellness and Success” monies with committee members. As reported previously by The Ohio Star:

The money is required to be used on any of the following: (1) mental health services, (2) services for homeless youth, (3) services for child welfare involved youth, (4) community liaisons, (5) physical health care services, (6) mentoring programs, (7) family engagement and support services, (8) City Connects programming, (9) professional development regarding the provision of trauma-informed care, and (10) professional development regarding cultural competence.”

In addition to these areas, it was noted that before- and after-school care can also be funded.

Two more limitations on the allotment were explained by the Superintendent. All schools must develop a plan to use the money. All plans must incorporate community partnerships with any of the following: Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Boards, Educational Service Centers, County Developmental Disabilities’ Boards, community based mental health treatment organizations, a city board of health or a general health district, county jobs and family services agencies, nonprofit entities with experience serving children and public hospitals.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].

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