Ohio Public School Funding Report……20 years after DeRolph

Thanks to Lobbyist Arzella for this link to the article on the state of Ohio public school financing twenty years after the DeRolph case that deemed the use of property taxes to fund public schools unconstitutional.  Since this is a 40 page report, we will endeavor to give you some of the important points.


“After the first Supreme Court ruling in the DeRolph lawsuit on March 24, 1997 a state panel was assembled to review and revise Ohio’s school funding formula. FY1999 was the first year that the new
formula was implemented.”

[Overall] Conclusion: Ohio’s lowest wealth school districts (FY99-FY19) received a 29.4%
increase in state local and local revenues after adjusting for inflation. This increase
is only 3.8 percentage points greater than the inflation-adjusted increase in state and
local revenue received by Ohio’s wealthiest school districts (25.6%) over the same
time period.”

(LFC Comment: We have spent untold millions in trying to redistribute the money in a fair and equitable manner and this is what we get?  There may be a “couple of factors that need to be discussed” – inflation is ageist (discriminates against the older population), and our problem with public schools is NOT the amount of money being spent.  We are going to have to look at how the money is being spent in public education.)

Here are some additional details that were mentioned at the end of the report:

D. Conclusions and Summary of Key Findings
1) Total state and local operating revenue increased by 83.4% from FY99 through
FY19. However, once inflation is factored in, the net increase in state and local
revenue is only 21.7%, or an average of 1.1% annually.

2) On a per pupil basis, the results are similar, showing a 91.8% increase from FY99
to FY09 falling to a 27.3% increase once inflation is taken into account. That is
an average 1.4% annual increase in per pupil state and local revenues from FY99
through FY19.

3) On a per pupil basis, inflation adjusted state revenues increased by 35.3% from
FY99 to FY09, but have decreased by -1.9% from FY09 to FY19.

4) Similarly, inflation-adjusted per pupil state and local revenues increased by 20.9%
from FY99 to FY09, but have increased by only 5.3% from FY09 to FY19.

5) Viewed from another perspective, the lowest wealth (Q1) districts have seen their
share of total state and local resources fall from 26.4% in Fy99 to 24.1% in Fyt19,
while the highest wealth (Q5) school districts have seen their share of total state
and local resources increase from 22.2% in FY99 to 23.4% in FY19.

6) Unsurprisingly, given the above five points, a variety of equity measures indicate
that equity in state and local school operating revenues improved from FY99 to
FY09, but regressed somewhat from FY09 to FY19.

Analysis of property wealth quintiles provided additional insights into the distribution of
local, state, and combine state and local revenues from FY99 through FY19.

7) Inflation adjusted local revenues increased an average of roughly 20-28% for the
4 wealthiest groups of school districts from FY99-FY19, however for the poorest
quintile of school districts inflation adjusted local revenues actually decreased
from FY99 through FY19.

8) The opposite trend was true with state revenues, as the lowest wealth school
districts (Q1) experienced an inflation-adjusted increase of 50.3% while the
wealthiest districts received an increase of 18.9% in per pupil state revenues.

9) When the total change in combined state plus local revenues is examined, the
lowest wealth quintile 1 school districts received an inflation-adjusted increase of
29.4% while the wealthiest (quintile 5) school districts received an inflation adjusted
increase of 25.8%.

10) In $ terms this amounts to an inflation adjusted difference of only $107 per pupil
between the increase in revenues received by the lowest wealth school districts
($1,775 per pupil) versus the increase received by the wealthiest districts ($1,668
per pupil). This relatively small gap explains why the improvement in school
funding equity since DeRolph has been so modest.

Categories: Education

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