School Financing…starting to get on the radar screen…

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Article from Mentor officials dealing with school financing, unfortunately it is not dated.

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER’S ISSUE FOR COMMENTOR

STATEWIDE SCHOOL FUNDING REFORM – STATUS REPORT

Historically, Ohio has funded public education utilizing an over-reliance on local property taxes.  In 1991 a lawsuit was filed in Ohio (DeRolph v. State of Ohio) contending that the method of funding public education was unconstitutional.  Since the filing in 1991, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled on four separate occasions that the system of funding public education is overreliant on local property taxes and is unconstitutional.  Each time the Supreme Court has directed the Ohio Legislature to remedy the unconstitutional aspects of public school funding.

Unfortunately, the legislature has not enacted laws to correct the major flaws and problems with school funding reform.  While the legislature has increased public school district funding, the problem with over-reliance on local property taxes continues to exist.  In addition, a structural flaw in the school funding formula identified as “phantom revenue” penalizes school districts in the calculation for State funding.  Last year the phantom revenue penalty for the Mentor Public Schools was $1,116,500.  Because of the problems with the current school funding formula, over half of the school districts in the State of Ohio, including the Mentor Public Schools, are on a guarantee that provides the same level of funding as in the previous year.  In other words, there is no annual increase in State funding for our school district to offset the cost of inflation and unfunded mandates.  It must be noted that the State foundation program (our State subsidy) provides only 18% of our total operating revenue.

Over the past year, our school district has actively participated in discussions concerning reforming the method of funding public schools in Ohio.  I have been privileged to serve on a work group formed by 12 major educational organizations in Ohio to draft a constitutional amendment to address the major problems with Ohio school funding.   Our school district, as well as the Superintendent and myself, collectively are members of six of the twelve organizations involved.  The proposed constitutional amendment for improved education funding will accomplish the following:

• Making education a fundamental right for all students  • Establishing a process to determine components of a high   quality education and actual costs  • Creating a State trust fund to ensure the costs for education   are covered  • Clearly defining State and local responsibilities for funding   and results

• Fixing phantom revenue  • Preserving a State school facilities program

In addition to the work of the twelve major educational organizations, several mayors representing large urban communities, have participated in the discussions and have supported finally addressing the major flaws in school funding.   This ambitious effort is historic in the fact that the twelve major educational organizations have been able to come together and support a common set of solutions.  Much work remains to be done before a finally agreed upon solution can be pursued.  In the meantime, it is extremely important to recognize that local funding is required to support high quality education within the Mentor Public Schools until such time as new laws or constitutional amendments are enacted.

I would be happy to discuss any aspect of public school funding in the State of Ohio.  Please contact me at 440-974-5230 or wilson@mentorschools.org.
http://www.mentorschools.net/Downloads/020%202006_winter_statewide_funding.pdf

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