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After DeWine signed HB 99, CPS board votes to forbid teachers be armed at school

Ambriehl Crutchfield

The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education opposes an Ohio law lowering the required number of hours for armed personnel in schools citing an “increased risk to children and school personnel.”

Gov. Mike DeWine signed Ohio House Bill 99 on Monday, which lowers training requirements for armed personnel in schools from more than 700 hours to 24 hours. The CPS school board approved a resolution opposing the measure Monday evening.

“In spite of opposition from teachers’ unions like the Ohio Federation of Teachers, with 55 locals and 20,000 members, and the Ohio Education Association, with 748 locals and 121,000 members, the Ohio House Bill 99 has become law,” board member Eve Bolton said while discussing the resolution.

Bolton said the only good thing about the recently signed legislature is that it allows individual school boards to determine who carries firearms within school buildings.

“It allows for local effort, local discretion, to determine both whether or not there will be folks carrying weapons that are a part of the school personnel, as well as to determine the nature of training,” Bolton said.

According to Board Policy 7217, the only individuals allowed to carry firearms within CPS are Cincinnati Police officers and other law enforcement personnel.

Along with the measure being signed lowering training hours for armed personnel in schools, an Ohio law allowing anyone over 21 to carry a concealed weapon in public also went into effect on Monday.

Tax levy

Monday night, CPS’ school board also approved a resolution giving the go ahead to submit a tax levy renewal.

In May, the board said it's necessary to move a tax levy from a five-year cycle to a 10-year cycle during the upcoming election in November. If the levy were to stay on the five-year course, then voters would have to deal with voting on three separate levies in a four-year period (2025, 2027 and 2028).

The $51.5 million "emergency fixed sum levy" was first enacted in 2008. It will be the third renewal for the levy if voters approve it in November.

During a May board meeting, Treasurer and CFO Jennifer Wagner also said the tax levy cannot be replaced by ESSER funds. Those funds specifically must go toward covering costs related to COVID-19, including but not limited to remote learning, preventing learning loss, PPE, etc. ESSER funds run out in 2024. If the levy doesn't pass, Wagner says the district would have to cut roughly $25 million from the budget each year.

Here’s a draft of what that could look like on the November ballot:

Shall a levy renewing an existing levy be imposed by the Cincinnati City School District for the purpose of PROVIDING FOR THE EMERGENCY REQUIREMENTS OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT, in the sum of $51,500,000 per year, and a levy of taxes to be made outside of the ten-mill limitation estimated by the county auditor to average six and eighty hundredths (6.80) mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to sixty eight cents ($0.68) for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for a period of ten (10) years, commencing in 2023, first due in calendar year 2024.

The 2023 fiscal year budget target is $613 million. The board will officially adopt the budget June 27.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.