New School Funding Plan Proposed

Thanks to a Kirtland lobbyist for this cleveland.com article on the proposed revisions to the school funding.  We will have to see the final outcome before we can give it a “thumbs up or down”.  This is in keeping with our prior article documenting our meeting with Representative Patterson at the Chardon library.

https://lobbyistsforcitizens.com/2019/03/11/meeting-with-representative-john-patterson/

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Wrapping up months of work, state lawmakers on Monday said their new plan will finally fix how Ohio funds its public schools.

State Reps. Bob Cupp and John Patterson said their new plan aims to tie school funding directly to the number of teachers and other staff a school will need to serve its students, while changing how the state calculates how much residents of a local district can afford to fund themselves.

In doing so, they say it will reduce Ohio’s reliance in school funding on local property values — the core of a landmark series of rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court that found the state’s school funding system unconstitutional more than 20 years ago.

They also said their new formula will be fair and easy for taxpayers to understand.

But they declined to share key details, namely, how much money each of Ohio’s 600-plus districts would get under the new formula. They said they don’t believe any schools would see their funding cut if the new formula is approved, and their plan will increase state funding for K-12 schools overall.

Cupp and Patterson, who since late 2018 have been leading a bipartisan working group of lawmakers and public-school officials, said those details will be coming Friday. They spoke at a Monday news conference in Columbus at the Ohio Statehouse.

“This is a legacy project,” said Patterson, a Democrat and former high-school teacher from Ashtabula County.

Cupp, a Lima Republican and former Ohio Supreme Court justice, said he thinks the new plan is constitutional. “I think this meets all the requirements of the DeRolph decisions,” Cupp said, referencing the name of the plaintiff in the landmark Ohio Supreme Court decisions that found Ohio’s public-school funding system illegally favored wealthy areas of the state.

So why didn’t they provide any additional details?

They said they are still finalizing the dollar figures, but also wanted to do a soft roll-out so they can first explain their philosophy behind the plan.  “We want you to be able to understand and internalize this so that you could explain to others,” Patterson told reporters. “…. And we don’t take that lightly. This is something we all have to buy into, and we don’t want to get the proverbial cart before the horse.”

They did provide some big-picture goals of their plan. They said:

– Their formula would be phased in over four years. It would eliminate the funding caps, and phase out the funding guarantees that currently apply to most schools in Ohio.

– The state would figure out how much local school districts could afford to fund themselves based 60 percent on a district’s local property values, and 40 percent on the district’s income levels.

– Ninety-five percent of state funding would go directly toward paying for education, school operations or student support, with the remaining 5 percent covering administrative costs.

– They would provide direct state funding to charter schools. Currently, the state funds charter schools by subtracting funding from the school districts in which charter school students live.

– The formula would include giving schools enough money to buy each student a Chromebook or a similar electronic device.

Cupp and Patterson also said their plan is designed to dovetail with educational proposals Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed in his state budget plan. DeWine wants to give schools $300 million annually in new funding for “wraparound” support services for poor and at-risk students. However, his recent state budget plan didn’t propose changing the state’s basic school funding formula, effectively leaving that work to Patterson and Cupp’s group.

“We talked with the governor’s folks before he introduced his budget,” Cupp said Monday. “Our program hadn’t come quickly enough together yet, but we think they recognize what we’re trying to do, and we look forward to working with the governor.”

The DeWine administration and the state legislature are more than $700 million apart when it comes to predicting how much money Ohio will take through 2021.

But asked if Ohio has room in its budget to pay for the new school funding plan as well as DeWine’s own plans, Patterson said the actual question is whether lawmakers want to do so.

“The question is do we have the will, if we truly believe that every student has to have a chance to succeed and ought to have that chance to succeed for the future. This is an investment in Ohio,” Patterson said.

The outline of the new plan drew praise from education advocates.

In a statement, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, a union representing teachers and other public-school employees, called the formula “a step in the right direction because it focuses on what our students need to succeed and excel.”

Among the public school officials who have been working on the new school-funding plan is Lakewood City Schools Superintendent Michael Barnes, who was in Columbus on Monday. He declined to comment for this story.

State lawmakers say their new plan fixes how Ohio funds its public schools



Categories: Lake County, State of Ohio & Lake County Schools, Uncategorized

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