by J.D. Davidson
Two members of the Ohio House want the state’s board of education to be more connected to the public by reducing the number of members and eliminating nonelected members.
Eight of the current 19 members receive appointments from the governor, but House Bill 298 eliminates each of those positions when current terms expire, reducing the board to its 1995 level of 11 members.
“The State Board of Education is an important body and the members of its Board should be accountable to the voters,” Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, said. “Right now, 42% of the members of the State Board of Education are not elected and, therefore, not accountable to anyone. To have almost half the board unelected and unaccountable does not reflect the transparency and responsiveness that Ohioans need and deserve.”
The board hires and fires the state superintendent after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1953 to create the board. Calls to change the board makeup have been heard since almost the time the current board organization took place.
Sponsors believe the current bipartisan proposed legislation brings accountability and transparency, while removing political connections to the governor’s office.
“Changing the State Board of Education make-up to a totally elected body will return the original intent and give taxpayers a voice on issues and policies that will affect their children’s education,” co-sponsor Rep. Joe Miller, D-Amherst, said. “This places the responsibility of the electorate to be more intentional in who we elect to the State Board of Education members. We need pro-public education representation on the board that represents public education. This bill will allow for more of a separation of power and return to a more transparent and accountable State Board.”
HB 298 has been assigned to the House Government Oversight Committee and awaits its first committee hearing.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Rep. Miller speaks with Rep. Adam Miller before House session” by The Ohio House of Representatives.