Do you know why you need us? Because when no one pays attention, things happen that aren’t discovered until after the fact.
It should be more than a little concerning to all of us that language was inserted into a bill that will affect thousands of schoolkids and no one claims to know who’s responsible for doing it.
Last week, The Canton Repository’s Kelli Weir reported the Plain Local School District is suing the state superintendent in response to Ohio Revised Code 3311.242, a new law that enables communities to “transfer out” of a district.
Plain Local officials suspect some people living in exclusive Hills and Dales Village pushed for the law so they can extract themselves from Plain Local and join the Jackson Local School District, ostensibly, to protect their homes’ property values.
If they’re allowed to leave, it would cost Plain more than $600,000 in annual tax revenue.
Plain officials are pointing the finger at state Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, whose district includes Hills and Dales. He chairs the committee that reinserted the language after it was stripped from the Senate version of the state budget.
Oelslager has denied reinserting the language into the budget.
The central issue
Now, rightly or wrongly, people are going to try to protect their interests. In 2004, some village residents petitioned to leave Plain Local, but were denied in doing so by the state and two courts.
That isn’t the central issue here. It is that no one claims to know who proposed the bill, or who wrote it, or how it got reinserted into the final budget.
It is that no one is taking responsibility for legislation that would have a drastic effect on a lot of kids and teachers.
The reason no one seems to know who reinserted the transfer provision is because of a quirk in the law. According to Weir’s report, state law allows legislators who submit suggestions to remain anonymous.
Why? What possible reason would a public servant have for conducting the people’s business in such a private way?
Weir reports that state Sen. Kirk Schuring, who represents most of Stark County, doesn’t know who did it. The Ohio High School Athletic Association didn’t weigh in because no one from that office saw the bill before it was passed. Spokespersons for the Ohio School Boards Association and the Ohio Legislative Service Commission all told Weir no one asked them for their input.
Heidi Fought, of the Ohio Township Association, told the Repository her organization wasn’t consulted or informed about the change, even though township trustees largely would be responsible for negotiating the terms of a community’s transfer from one school district to another.
It’s like a bad crime novel: Nobody knows nothin’ about nothin.′
It might seem all very inside baseball, but the reason it matters is because you have a right to know who’s crafting policies and laws, and apparently doing so with impunity.
You should care because everyone has a stake in public education functioning well everywhere, not only in their particular community. There isn’t enough money, there aren’t enough cops in the world to insulate us from the effects of a society in which people are uneducated and unskilled.
Even if the law is upheld, you still ought to care because you have a right to know what elected officials - the people who work for you - are doing on your behalf.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP.