Did you know that the Ohio House Finance Committee is hearing testimony on Ohio HB 33, the budget bill, and that the budget will house the much needed phase-in of Ohio’s Fair School Funding Plan?
In the previous budget, Ohio lawmakers only provided enough funding to cover about one-third of the Fair School Funding Plan, and they did not commit to full funding over six years. They now have an opportunity to invest in the majority of Ohio’s school children and their families by fully funding Ohio’s Fair School Funding Plan.
Read more about the history behind the Fair School Funding Plan.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in DeRolph v. State of Ohio (1997) that Ohio’s method for funding schools through the state’s school foundation program was unconstitutional under Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution, and in DeRolph, the Ohio Supreme Court declared that Ohio’s school funding system was over-reliant on local property taxes and was inherently discriminatory to children based on where they reside for disparities exist between communities of affluence and impoverishment.
Since the DeRolph decision, the Ohio General Assembly has failed to fully fund a system that meets Ohio’s constitutional standard of securing “… a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state.” For many years, Ohio’s solution to satisfy the Ohio Supreme Court’s order has been to pass a series of biennial budgets containing politically expedient remedies that have not eliminated the over-reliance on local property tax or mitigated the discriminatory nature inherent in the series of “funding fixes” legislated over the last 26 years.
Former Ohio House Speaker Robert Cupp (R) and former Rep. John Patterson (D) convened a statewide workgroup, made up of eight practicing school district CFO/Treasurers and eight practicing Superintendents (the “Cupp-Patterson Workgroup”), to devise a new formula, and recognizing that Ohio needs an overhaul to its school funding system, spent over three years determining the inputs necessary to fund a “thorough and efficient system of common schools” that reduces the over-reliance on local property tax and creates equity in the state foundation system.
This workgroup carefully analyzed national research, best practices, actual Ohio school district spending data, and drew on their own extensive experience in educating students and operating school districts to make recommendations for a school funding system that would meet the needs of all Ohio’s students in the 21st century.
The Cupp-Patterson Workgroup developed recommendations that laid out a rational, transparent, comprehensive and – most of all – fair system for funding schools based on the actual cost of providing a basic education for all students in Ohio (the “Base Cost”), and it developed a method of sharing the funding of the Base Cost between the state and local taxpayers that is easy to understand and based on a fair, defensible measure of the capacity to generate funds locally.
This bipartisan workgroup identified and provided a framework for providing additional resources to meet needs beyond those of basic education, including the areas of the social, emotional, safety, and mental health of students, the additional challenges driven by students living in poverty, with special needs, with limited English proficiency, and who are academically gifted, and developed sound recommendations for properly funding Career Technology Centers, Educational Service Centers, and Charter and Community schools.
Based on this research and detailed work, the Cupp-Patterson Workgroup produced and recommended the Fair School Funding Plan, intending it as an investment in Ohio’s children and Ohio’s future.
Again, Ohio lawmakers have only provided enough funding to cover about one-third of the Fair School Funding Plan, and they did not commit to full funding over six years.
Please contact your state legislators and tell them to follow through on this opportunity to invest in the majority of Ohio’s school kids and families by fully funding and supporting the continued implementation of Ohio’s Fair School Funding Plan in the upcoming state budget- House Bill 33.
The italicized text in this post was inspired by many Ohio school district resolutions entitled, “A Resolution to Endorse the Fair School Funding Plan and to Encourage the General Assembly to Expedite Its Passage.”
Ohio kids can’t wait any longer!