April 24, 2014

Elyria
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BREAKING: State budget takes pledge choice away from schools

COLUMBUS — A final version of the Ohio budget strips school districts of the authority to determine whether pupils should say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The plan also removes a provision that would have allowed natural gas drilling in Ohio state parks and clarifies Gov. Ted Strickland’s authority to put slot machines at Ohio’s horse racing tracks to raise an estimated $933 million.

A legislative committee voted 5-1 today to approve the budget plan after little debate or discussion.

Whether or not to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school and at school events has been a matter of a great deal of debate recently in Oberlin Schools.

Most recently, in May, the school board voted to keep in place a policy of not saying the pledge.

Oberlin students do not recite the pledge and it is not recited at school board meetings. The history of the pledge is taught as part of the social studies curriculum, but the school board adopted a policy several years ago that states the pledge is “not part of the structured school day.”

The roughly $52 billion state budget now goes to votes in the House and Senate. The plan contains $2 billion in cuts, ends a tuition freeze at Ohio’s public colleges and universities, and cuts library funding by $84 million instead of the $227 million proposed by Strickland.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Chronicle.