Earlier this week, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) introduced a student wellness and success page on its website. ODE created the page to provide information to school districts, community partners and parents about ODE-allocated funding to support student wellness and success.

The General Assembly allocated $675 million to this initiative over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. All school districts, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) schools, community schools, and joint vocational school districts (JVSD) will receive student wellness and success funds over that time period.

Each recipient must develop a plan for how it will use the funds on any one or a combination of initiatives described in the law, such as mental health services, services for homeless youth, community liaisons, monitoring programs, family engagement and support services, and professional development regarding trauma-informed care. The plan must be developed in conjunction with at least one community partner, including, among others, county boards of developmental disabilities, boards of alcohol, drug and mental health services, city or general health districts, educational service centers, and nonprofit organizations with experience serving children.

ODE is charged with distributing the funds to school districts. The first step in the disbursement process will be for ODE to compute a poverty percentage for each district by dividing the number of students under 18 residing in the district who live in households with a family income below 185% of the federal poverty guidelines by the total number of children under 18 residing in the district. ODE must then rank the districts by poverty percentage from highest to lowest. The list must be divided into five groups, or quintiles. Districts with the highest poverty percentage are in the highest quintile. Once the quintiles are determined, ODE will use formulas established in law to divide the funds among school districts, STEM and charter schools, and JVSDs.

ODE’s webpage on student wellness and success funds features funding information for school districts, including funding estimates, as determined by the Legislative Budget Office, by district, JVSD and community and STEM schools. The webpage also includes:

Funds will be disbursed to recipients twice each year, in October and February. The first payments will be made before Oct. 31, 2019.

ODE has also set up an email box for questions about student wellness and success funds: WellnessAndSuccess@education.ohio.gov. More information about this initiative will be included in OSBA’s next Policy Development Quarterly (PDQ). OSBA’s division of legal services will continue to monitor this issue and will share information with districts as it becomes available.

Posted by Jennifer A. Hardin on 8/30/2019