Proposed new school funding formula for Ohio - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Proposed new school funding formula for Ohio

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COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio -

In a landmark lawsuit 22 years ago, Ohio's school funding system was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  

Now a bi-partisan group led by two state lawmakers have a proposal they believe could fix the school funding formula.   

21 News has learned it could cost Ohio an extra $400-million next year.  However, educators, we talked to say it's worth it.

At Crestview Elementary School on Friday, the state superintendent with the Ohio Department of Education visited and had an opportunity to see how third and fourth-grade students worked with the business Humtown Products on Problem Based Education.  

But it's the issue of school funding that's been a problem in Ohio for nearly two decades.  

Paolo DeMaria is the state superintendent of public instruction based in Columbus at the Ohio Department of Education. "What are the actual costs of educating students? How does that get factored into a formula? And then, the other challenge is distribution.  How much should the state be paying?  How much can we rely on local contributions," Paolo said.

Now a bi-partisan group led by two state representatives working with 16 superintendents and treasurers from Ohio schools have a new funding formula that's been presented to the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee.  

State Representatives Robert Cupp a Republican from Lima and John Patterson a Democrat from Jefferson unveiled their Fair School Funding Plan that was developed over 15 months with front-line educational and school finance leaders.

The lawmakers said, "No district will lose money.  And, yes, the plan meets the test of Ohio's Constitution with respect to the DeRolph descisions," said Representative Cupp, a former Ohio Supreme Court Justice.

21 News has learned that:

  • Every district's funding is calculated in the same way; it reflects it's unique local needs and is computed independently from any other district.
  • As the formula is phased-in, no district will receive any less funding than is currently allotted
  • The formula will reflect changes in enrollment and economic factors in a way that is rational and stable.
  • Caps on the state share of district growth will be eliminated as the formula is phased-in
  • The new system bases district ability to pay on both income and overall property value.
  • Ninety-five percent of formula funding goes to instruction, educational support, and school operations - with 5% for central administration.  The plan also funds key categorical needs, such as safety and security, high student poverty, mental health, technology, pre-school, STEM, student transportation, career education, and school choice. 

The new school funding formula is based 60% on district property values and 40% on income.  One of the state representatives is quoted as saying that's radically different.

It's estimated Ohio could spend $400 million more on school funding next fiscal year under the proposed Fair School Funding Plan.

But no school district would lose money next year, and of the 610 districts over 500 would get additional funding during the upcoming two year budget.

"It also has a component that speaks to some economically disadvantaged students. There are additional funds available for students like that as well as students with disabilities and students that are English language learners for instance.  Those kinds of things also get factored into the model," said State Superintendent DeMaria.

Anna Marie Vaughn, the superintendent with the Columbiana County Educational Service Center, said she's glad to see the proposal include school safety and mental health that Governor Mike DeWine proposed years ago.  "In Columbiana County, we've been working very hard with that in terms of coordinated school health for the whole child, and it hasn't received a lot of attention until this year.  We're very excited about the governor's proposal; we think that we'd also like to see the House and Senate follow up with that because all of our schools need additional mental health whole childcare,  health wraparound services, the kind of things that make them succeed.  We have a saying here in Columbiana County, "Every Child Safe, Healthy and Achieving."  But if they're not safe, if they're not healthy, the fact is it's harder for them to achieve."

The proposal still needs to be put in to bill form and voted on by the House and Senate to become law.

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