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Ohio Utica Shale

Ohio's Straight A Fund includes educational programs in drilling

By Bob Downing Published: December 15, 2013

From the Associated Press:I

 
 
 

If approved on Monday, Ohio's first round of education innovation grants will go to foster careers in manufacturing and the drilling industry and early college and speciality programs tailored to Appalachia, Amish Country and the Great Lakes.

A vote scheduled Monday would clear the way for the first $88 million of Republican Gov. John Kasich's new Straight A Fund to be spent.

About a quarter of Straight A grant requests before the Ohio Controlling Board tie in some way to fostering Ohio's growing oil and gas drilling industry — an economic driver that Kasich wants to see continue to flourish and create jobs.

Kasich launched the $250 million fund in September, including it in the $62 billion, two-year state operating budget. The grant program was pitched as a way to reward creative ideas that significantly boost student achievement, reduce spending or target an impressive share of resources into the classroom. Its critics have said it gave the governor control over a chunk of money that should have been evenly divided among Ohio's cash-strapped school districts.

Many finalists for grants strive for goals in line with Kasich's education philosophy, such as cutting administrative costs, expanding digital learning and blending the transition between high school and college through early college, dual enrollment or campus sharing arrangements, among other plans.

One nearly $13 million grant would establish Marysville Early College High School and Union County Innovation Center in a joint venture including the local school district, chamber of commerce and Honda of America. Early College 2.0 in Dayton would receive $478,000 to establish a low-cost "Smart Summer" program helping students retain what they've learned during their summer break, among other features.

The largest grant would send nearly $15 million to an Appalachian collaborative of 27 rural school districts serving 48,000 students.

The Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Personalized Learning Network cites among Its goals amplifying the talent pipeline for jobs involving the natural-gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shales. The consortium would also work to eliminate a gap between rural and urban students by making college and advanced high school opportunities more accessible and affordable.

The POWER project (Providing Opportunities with Extraordinary Results) would receive $4 million from the pot, in part to improve opportunities for students in the energy field. The program was created by the Carrollton Exempted Village Schools with Battelle for Kids, Ohio State University and others. Carroll County is at the center of Ohio's hydraulic fracturing boom.

Two Hamilton County school districts, Cincinnati City and Princeton, would receive $14.5 million, if approved, to improve educational services and resources for the region's exploding population of English language learners. Future CLASS for Diverse Learners would serve an estimated 14,400 students and families with English classes for parents and additional translation of the districts' most-used documents, among other things.

Other grants would highlight notable cultural or scientific aspects of the state. One establishes a $205,000 "Cabinets of Wonder" initiative on literacy, arts and the Amish-Mennonite culture in Holmes County. Another sends $525,000 to build outdoor innovation labs on Kelley's Island in conjunction with the Akron Inventors Hall of Fame, Biomed Science Academy, Columbus City Schools, Ashland University and others.

Finalists were chosen through a multistep process that included application scoring and review by some 30 grant advisers, including professional educators and community and corporate leaders. The nine-member Straight A Governing Board made up of four Kasich appointees, four appointees of Republican legislative leaders and the state superintendent made the final recommendations.

Of the $100 million from the fund available this year, legislators earmarked $11.4 million for projects that included Kids Unlimited of Toledo, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program; Cleveland Municipal School District for implementation of the Cleveland Plan; and qualifying districts to find ways to trim transportation costs.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.