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Harris makes his picks for school funding panel

Some of Senate President Bill M. Harris’ appointments to the Ohio School Funding Advisory Council should make for lively meetings.

Among Harris’ nine appointees to the council are a superintendent who has been an outspoken critic of the governor’s new school-funding model, and an opinionated Republican consultant with ties to charter schools.

Established in the two-year budget bill, the 28-member council is charged with analyzing the adequacy of the new “evidence-based” school funding plan, particularly as it relates to areas including special, gifted and career-technical education.

In its recommendations, due every two years starting Dec. 1, 2010, the council also will examine areas such as joint vocational school funding, teacher compensation, and charter school reporting standards.

Harris, Speaker Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, and Gov. Ted Strickland each get to make certain appointments to the council. Budish and Strickland are expected to release their names soon.

Harris got to pick one school superintendent, and he chose John Scheu of Hardin-Houston Local Schools in Shelby County, an outspoken critic of the governor’s “evidence-based” model, which he said contains too many unfunded mandates.

As the “representative of the general public,” Harris picked Michael D. Dawson of Bexley, who has advised former governor and current U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, former U.S. Sen. Michael DeWine and former House Speaker and current secretary of state candidate Jon Husted, R-Kettering. He also has worked with charter school advocates and is known to dive into the nitty gritty of school-funding data.

Harris named Lynn Elfner, CEO of the Ohio Academy of Science, who wrote of the governor’s funding plan in March: “In summary, the underpinning intellectual components—the governor’s bibliography—lack references to fundamental, research-based knowledge about learning and teaching. Most of the references are political or interpretive and of secondary importance from a research literature viewpoint.” Harris didn’t have much choice here, as he had to pick someone from the academy.

As the school board representative, Harris picked Kathryn Lorenz, president of the Loveland City School Board in Hamilton County.

As the business community representative, he picked Adrienne O’Neill of the Stark Education Partnership.

The charter school representative will be Richard Lukich of Constellation Schools in Independence.

The charter school parent representative will be Dave Huelsman of Reynoldsburg.

Neil Gupta, director of secondary curriculum for Ashland City Schools, is the president’s personal committee pick.

Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, is the pick of the Senate minority leader.


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