Group rallies for school funding

More than 100 people rallied outside the Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy in Dayton Thursday, demanding Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers fully fund public education and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

School districts and charter schools throughout Ohio began taking steps this school year to prepare for the mandate that students who do not demonstrate proficiency on the third-grade reading Ohio Achievement Assessments in 2013-14 could be retained.

The rally was arranged by Stand Up for Ohio, a coalition of community, labor, civil rights and environmental groups.

During the Dayton stop, community activists voiced their concern that there was not enough funding attached to the guarantee to help districts better prepare students.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor’s budget would increase K-12 funding by $1.2 billion over the biennium.

“The ability to read will dictate whether (students) succeed or fail moving forward,” he said.

A February Daily News analysis found it could collectively cost area school districts millions of dollars annually to meet requirements of the state’s new reading guarantee.

Maria Holt, whose son attends kindergarten at Dayton Boys Prep, said there needs to be sufficient resources to carry out such mandates. “Our kids need support. Teachers need support,” she said. “

Robert Walker, vice president of Dayton Public’s school board, welcomed the group and told a reporter later that an underlying issue is poverty in the community. As a young student falls behind in reading, there is an additional burden on the school district to equip them to become proficient by the third grade. Because the state reading guarantee was not fully funded, school leaders have to reevaluate what they’re doing, he said. “We feel our hands are tied.”

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