Lawmakers would kill innovative ed fund

Senate Republicans want to kill another Gov. John Kasich priority, one that has given $250 million to schools for innovative ideas such as teaching students to program robots.

Kasich pushed for the Straight-A Fund in 2013 to reward schools that educate students in inventive ways. For example, eight career-technical schools used nearly $15 million to purchase robots that students use to earn industry certifications and jobs in skilled trades, said Chuck Speelman, superintendent of the Tri-Rivers Career Center in Marion.

"We trained students on generic robotic systems before then hoped those skills would be transferable. We don't hope anymore," Speelman said.

But senators stripped money for the education fund from their version of the two-year budget, saying it wasn't a priority as lawmakers look for places to cut spending, said Senate Finance Chairman Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton.

Kasich, whose office declined to comment on specific budget changes, had allocated about $200 million for the innovative education fund for the next two years. House lawmakers cut that amount in half. Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said Monday that programs were eliminated throughout the budget to pay for an income tax cut for business owners.

(Read more at the Lancaster EAgle Gazette)