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RESOLUTION TEMPLATE for HB 1- The Fair School Funding Plan

The Wilmington school board has endorsed Ohio House Bill (HB) 1 — also known as the Fair School Funding Plan.

In making the endorsement, board members passed a resolution stating Ohio’s current school funding system “lacks a rational basis for determining both the cost of educating students, and how the funding of education is shared between the state and local taxpayers.”

Ask your local school board if it has passed a resolution supporting HB 1- the Cupp-Patterson Fair School Funding Plan. If the BOE hasn’t done so, please share this easy-to-copy-and-paste text based on the Wilmington City School District’s statement:


WHEREAS, 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

WHEREAS, in DeRolph, the Ohio Supreme Court declared that Ohio’s school funding system was over-reliant on local property taxes, and as such, was inherently discriminatory to children based on where they reside for disparities exist between communities of affluence and impoverishment; and

WHEREAS, since the DeRolph decision, the Ohio General Assembly has failed to create a funding system that meets Ohio’s constitutional standard of securing “… a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state”; and

WHEREAS, 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 23 years; and

WHEREAS, Ohio’s previous biennial budget crafted by the 132nd Ohio General Assembly, and effective July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, created a funding system with “capped” districts, and districts receiving a minimum level of funding referred to as the “guarantee”; and

WHEREAS, the previous biennial budget identified 503 school districts out of 610, or 82%, either “capped” in their funding, or on the “guarantee,” which is a testament that Ohio’s funding model is not effective; and

WHEREAS, Ohio’s current biennial budget crafted by the 133rd General Assembly, froze foundation funding for Ohio schools at 2019 fiscal year levels (effectively placing all districts on “the guarantee”), which funding levels have subsequently been cut due to the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the current school funding system in Ohio lacks a rational basis for determining both the cost of educating students and how the funding of education is shared between the state and local taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, Representative Robert Cupp (R) and Representative 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, have spent the last 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; and

WHEREAS, the Cupp-Patterson 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 meets the needs of all Ohio’s students in the 21st century; and

WHEREAS, 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

WHEREAS, the Cupp-Patterson Workgroup 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; and

WHEREAS, the Cupp-Patterson 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

WHEREAS, the Cupp-Patterson Workgroup developed recommendations for properly funding Career Technology Centers, Educational Service Centers, and Charter and Community schools; and

WHEREAS, based on the research and work outlined above, the Cupp-Patterson Workgroup produced and recommended the Fair School Funding Plan, which was introduced in House Bill 1; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio General Assembly and the Governor of Ohio have an opportunity to devise a funding formula, as outlined in the Fair School Funding Plan, that is an investment in Ohio’s children and Ohio’s future.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of_________________________ that:

It is necessary to formally endorse the Fair School Funding Plan, as introduced in House Bill 1 of the 134th General Assembly, to ensure that K-12 schools in Ohio are funded using a rational school funding system that meets the needs of all Ohio’s students in the 21st century. The school district treasurer should be authorized to deliver or cause to be delivered a certified copy of this Resolution to community leaders; to members of the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate, including Reps. Jamie Callender and Bride Rose Sweeney; and to the office of Governor Michael DeWine.

Passing a resolution is important in educating citizens about the Fair School Funding plan, communicating the values of the community, and showing solidarity with the hundreds of other school districts that also expect this funding plan to pass. It also serves as a formal demand for Ohio legislators to get busy and pass HB 1, a rational, transparent, comprehensive and fair system for funding schools based on the actual cost of providing a basic education for all students in Ohio.


24 Years After the DeRolph Decision

March 24, 2021 is the 24th anniversary of the DeRolph decision! On March 24, 1997, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that the state funding system “fails to provide for a thorough and efficient system of common schools,” as required by the Ohio Constitution and directed the state to find a remedy. The problems with Ohio’s school funding system remain to this day.

Instead of creating a system that is no longer overly reliant on the passage of local operating millage, some state leaders in Ohio continue to expand private and parochial school options. Charters and vouchers divert state funding out of school district budgets and force voters to replace this funding with additional local operating levies. How is that fair and equitable?

Ohioans were stunned by the failure of the Ohio Senate Finance Committee which did not even hold open hearings on the bipartisan “Fair School Funding” bill (SB 376) in late 2020 that would have finally addressed the state’s unconstitutional and inequitable school funding formula.

Public Education Partners (PEP) created this CHANGE petition asking Sen. Matt Huffman, Sen. Matt Dolan, Gov. Mike DeWine, and the 134th Ohio General Assembly to reintroduce the current Fair School Funding Plan when they reconvened in 2021. Over 600 people have signed so far.

MANY THANKS to Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney and Rep. Jamie Callender for introducing House Bill 1 in February 2021, a policy that is virtually identical to last General Assembly’s House Bill 305 and Senate Bill 376!

The re-introduced Fair School Funding Bill (HB1) may be undergoing some revisions that are not needed, nor beneficial. It does not make sense for legislators to think that they have the knowledge and expertise to change a funding plan that was created and vetted over the course of three years by a bipartisan team of elected leaders, school treasurers, and education finance experts.

As for the Ohio Senate, PEP has heard that some senators will want a high price in return for supporting the bill by demanding even more school voucher expansion. “School choice” distractions have been the major hindrance to the development of a thorough and efficient system of common schools as required by the Ohio Constitution.

Derek Black, author of Schoolhouse Burning, summarizes trends about the lack of adequate and equitable school funding- many that have occurred here in Ohio: “Public education cuts initially looked like a response to the recession—overzealous and foolhardy, but understandable. In retrospect, the cuts look sinister. They came while states exponentially grew charters and vouchers—and remained in place well after the recession passed and state revenues were booming. To add insult to injury, various legislative mechanisms driving charter and voucher growth come at the direct expense of public schools. The contrasting reality of public schools and their private alternatives looks like a legislative preference for private school choice over public school guarantees… The most troubling thing is that it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar or education historian to recognize that something strange has happened. Politicians and advocates have taken on an unsettling aggressiveness toward public education.” (Schoolhouse Burning, pp. 226-227)

It is time to fix the school funding system. House Bill 1 satisfies Ohio’s obligation to provide every public school in the state with the resources it needs to deliver a high-quality education to every student.

Please ask your state leaders to support HB1 as written to ensure that no student or public school is disadvantaged because of income level or location. Find your legislators’ contact information here. Call and/or email them to let them know that House Bill 1, the FAIR SCHOOL FUNDING PLAN, will provide an equitable, comprehensive, and transparent funding model that will change the face of public education for 600+ School Districts and 1.7 million students across Ohio.

OHIO KIDS CAN’T WAIT any longer for Fair School Funding.


Put Ohio Lottery in Control of Legal Sports Betting

Ohio’s 24-year quest to find a constitutional school-funding formula appears headed for yet another roadblock – this one courtesy of the state’s powerful casino interests.

Back in 2009, the casinos drafted themselves a constitutional monopoly, then paid for the campaign to get voters to approve that monopoly by making promises they never kept. The biggest broken promise: Casinos would bring in $4 BILLION in revenues during their first five years of operations. After 6 years, however, the revenue had barely topped $1 billion.

Casinos have their hands out again, this time asking to oversee legal sports betting.

Advocates for public education should be opposed to this idea for several reasons. One big reason: If casinos get their way, Lottery profits – which go to education – would likely be adversely affected.

According to research from Pew Charitable Trust, states have seen their lottery profits suffer with the arrival of competition from new forms of gambling.  The explosive growth of casinos hurt some lotteries especially hard, such as ones in West Virginia, where gamblers are drawn to the state’s own casinos, as well as new ones in nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania.

William Phillis, Ohio’s premier expert on school funding, cited Pew’s studies that show casinos tend to pirate Lottery profits during his 2019 testimony in favor of making sports betting a Lottery product – rather than put casinos in charge.

“If Ohio chooses to allow sports betting, it must be structured in way that provides a sizeable and sustainable funding stream for primary and secondary education. To achieve that goal, sports betting must be a lottery product, so the net proceeds help fund public schools,’’ testified Phillis, the long-time Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding, the entity that successfully sued to declare Ohio’s funding plan unconstitutional.  “I see no public purpose in allowing the casinos to oversee sports betting,’’ he said. “While I am not crazy about lotteries either, at least the Ohio Lottery helps pay for public schools.’’

Money from the state Lottery represents just a small percent of Ohio’s spending on primary and secondary education but it still transferred about $1.2 billion to the Lottery Profits Education Fund in fiscal year 2019. If Lottery profits suffer, it is very unlikely that legislators would make up the difference.

The fight over who should control sports betting comes amid a promising new school -funding formula – but one that requires a multi-year phase-in.  Early last year, Ohio appeared eager to try and fund it. The new formula was crafted under the leadership of Republican Bob Cupp, Ohio’s new House Speaker, and Democrat John Patterson, a former state representative.

For about three years, the two sought input from all interested parties, planned to determine a base cost for educating a student based on school district demographics and even proposed direct funding for the always controversial topics of charters and school vouchers.  Their so-called Fair School Funding Plan gained the support of several educational organizations who, in a joint letter, described the plan as “a school funding system that meets the needs of all Ohio’s students in the 21st century.”

Then  COVID19 caused an economic downturn that resulted in cuts to education.

With Cupp holding the Speaker’s gavel and Patterson gone from the Ohio House, a new team is taking over the task of searching for a way to pay for the promising new formula. Gov. DeWine told reporters said his budget proposal intentionally did not propose a new funding formula, “knowing that both the House and Senate both had significant ideas and were well along in their process of developing a new formula.”

In addition to finding money to pay for schools with the virus still raging, the legislators’ task is complicated by the similarities between those who favor allowing casinos to oversee sports betting and those who supported the nuclear bailout law that is at the center of an on-going FBI investigation.

ProgressOhio released a memo that said, “casinos appear to be poised for a big win with help from the same policymakers, lobbyists and consultants who supported the nuclear bailout law now at the center of the FBI’s ongoing bribery investigation.’’

The ProgressOhio list includes:

Lobbyist Leah Pappas represents both FirstEnergy and casino interests; and lobbyists Brooke Cheney and Victor Hipsley who represent casino owners and developer Jacobs Entertainment and bailout beneficiaries the Ohio Coal Association. (It overlooked lobbyist Adam Hewitt who represents Penn National Gaming and unions that backed the casino ballot issue and the nuclear bailout).

Former House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson sits on the Ohio Casino Control Commission. She also served on the board of Empowering Ohio’s Economy, a dark money group financed mostly by AEP. It funneled money to another dark money group, Generation Now, which entered a guilty plea last week to federal racketeering charges that it was the vehicle through which the bribes to Householder flowed that helped to finance the nuclear bailout.

Former state Sen. John Eklund served as lead sponsor of a Senate bill to put sports betting under the Casino Control Commission. He is senior counsel at the law firm Calfee Halter & Griswold that also employs Pappas. The firm also worked for Partners for Progress, FirstEnergy’s dark money entity.

Gov. Mike DeWine – while still a candidate – appeared reluctant to allow sports betting. Then he teamed up with Jon Husted as his lieutenant governor. DeWine now wants to bring sports betting to Ohio – and put the casinos in charge.

This is the same Jon Husted who has the distinction of being the ONLY person to receive an honorary degree from ECOT. While serving as Ohio House Speaker, Husted led a successful effort to eliminate the Legislative Office of Education Oversight – the ONLY independent agency tasked with evaluating education programs. Husted recruited long-time ally Sam Randazzo for the job of chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, but Randazzo stepped down after the FBI raided his condo. And Husted convinced the governor to tap former FirstEnergy lobbyist Dan McCarthy to be his chief lobbyist.

If you don’t want to hurt public education and don’t want to hand casinos yet another monopoly, please contact Gov. DeWine. He’s clearly listening to the wrong people.

Proclaim Feb. 22-26, 2021 as Public Schools Week

Public Education Partners (PEP) is a statewide nonprofit that was created to connect and unite advocates that support public school districts and the children and families they serve. The Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding (OCEASF) was organized to challenge the constitutionality of the Ohio school funding system and to secure high quality educational opportunities for all Ohio school children.

PEP and OCEASF request that all Ohioans join state, county, city, and school district leaders across Ohio in officially recognizing February 22 – February 26, 2021 as PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK, which will bring together educators, parents, business and community leaders, and many others across the state to show the strength—and potential—of our public schools and our students’ futures.

Issuing proclamations provides an opportunity for all to shine a positive spotlight on the K-12 public education available for children and families in Ohio. Participants should then GO PUBLIC, and proudly (and loudly) proclaim this celebration of public education with the traditional, as well as social, media!

For everyone’s convenience, PEP and OCEASF have provided some suggested proclamation language found below.

GO PUBLIC, and share the following template with state, county, city, township, and school district leaders:

WHEREAS, Ohio’s 610 public school districts serve more than 1.8 million students and employ more than 250,000 Ohioans; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio Constitution guarantees all children a free public education of high quality; and

WHEREAS, an education citizenry is essential to our democracy; and

WHEREAS, Ohio citizens recognize the important role that an effective education plays in preparing all students to be successful adults; and

WHEREAS, public education contributes to the economic vitality of the Buckeye State and to vibrant communities; and

WHEREAS, Ohio’s public school district administrators, teaching professionals, and support staff are committed to educating all of our children; and

WHEREAS, public education is celebrated across the country by millions of students, parents, educators, schools, and organizations to raise awareness of the need for effective public schools;

THEREFORE, I (or WE), ______________, do hereby recognize February 22-February 26, 2021 as PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK and call this observance to the attention of all Ohioans.

It “takes a village” to create strong schools, and we know our PUBLIC SCHOOLS are our children’s second homes. In addition to passing the official resolutions, school districts can use these excellent resources from Learning First Alliance for  their celebrations of Public Schools Week 2021.


Public Education Partners: Year in Review 2020

What a busy year for public education advocacy in the Buckeye State!

There’s an “Ouch” in Every Voucher: Early in 2020, Public Education Partners (PEP) led a series of actions to push back against continued school voucher expansion in Ohio, which allows parents to use tax dollars for private and parochial schools through the EdChoice Program. The pro-privatization contingent in the Ohio legislature had widened the definition of a low-performing school to the point of absurdity, expanding the list of districts with “under-performing” schools from 40 in the fall of 2018 to 139 in 2019 and around 400 — nearly two-thirds of all districts in the state — by 2020.

Celebrate Public Education: In late January, Public Education Partners and the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding requested that all Ohioans consider joining state, county, city, and school district leaders across the state in officially recognizing January 26 – February 1, 2020 as PUBLIC EDUCATION WEEK in Ohio with official proclamations. The 3rd annual “CELEBRATE PUBLIC EDUCATION” event was presented in the Statehouse Atrium – it was a wonderful experience with talented, hard-working students and teachers sharing their music, drama, literature, poetry and videos “LIVE!” from all around our state.

Teamwork is Dreamwork: Following the lead of our contacts at the Wisconsin Public Education Network, PEP worked with friends of public education Senator Teresa Fedor and Rep. Phil Robinson in the spring to organize a formal request of Ohio’s Congressional Delegation to get Congress to increase the Education Stabilization Fund investment by $100 billion for K-12 education. Forty-four members of the Democratic caucus of the Ohio Legislature signed a letter calling on their U.S. Congress counterparts to bring more funding to the state’s public school districts in the next appropriations bill related to COVID-19.

Respect Science: In mid-summer, PEP wrote a position paper and had an op-ed published in the Columbus Dispatch concerning schools during the pandemic. PEP urged Ohio to embrace a statewide commitment to remote learning until the pandemic was brought under control, adding that the return to school buildings for on-site teaching and learning should be reassessed quarterly following science-based evaluations of the containment of the virus.

Oppose School Privatization: PEP teamed up with edu-blogger Jan Resseger to create the “Four Education Goals for Political Candidates,” which we sent to the Biden campaign and the Trump campaign. The goals included advocating for adequate and equitable school funding, opposing school privatization, pushing for the elimination of high-stakes standardized testing, and heeding the advice of experienced certified public school teachers.

Vouchers Hurt Ohio: Ohio’s traditional public school systems have seen state lawmakers drain $20 billion from their budgets over the years to support charter and private schools, and PEP Board member William Phillis, executive director for the Coalition for Equity & Adequacy in School Funding, said in mid-December that public school districts hired a Cleveland law firm to sue the state. The basis would be that Ohio’s elected officials are failing to meet their constitutional duty to fund a “thorough and adequate” system of public schools. Instead of setting up a system based on inequitable property taxes, state lawmakers and governors have robbed public schools in the name of school choice.

Ohio Kids Can’t Wait: The rest of 2020 was devoted to getting the Fair School Funding Plan (SB 376/HB 305) passed. The comprehensive efforts involved in the formulation of SB 376/HB 305 gave many legislators confidence that future legislatures could build on its framework. The Ohio House of Representatives passed the proposed new plan (HB 305) by a huge margin early in December, but the Ohio Senate Finance Committee didn’t even hold open hearings on the Senate’s companion bill, introduced as Senate Bill 376. PEP and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers hosted an event in Columbus called “How the Grinch Stole the Fair School Funding Plan from Ohio Children.” Public education advocates met in front of the Ohio Statehouse to deliver stockings filled with coal, failed report cards, and some holiday songs to Statehouse “Grinches” – highlighting how Ohio’s children have once again been failed by legislators in the Statehouse. A petition, asking that the current Fair School Funding Plan be reintroduced and passed in January 2021, already has well over 500 signatures. Please sign and share!

Public Education Partners looks forward to continuing to lead Ohioans to effectively advocate for public education in 2021!

How the Grinch Stole the Fair School Funding Plan from Ohio Children

The Grinch stole the Fair School Funding Plan (HB305/SB376) from Ohio children, their families, and local property taxpayers. OHIO KIDS CAN’T WAIT any longer for Fair School Funding!

Sign the CHANGE petition asking that the current Fair School Funding Plan be reintroduced and passed in January 2021.

Watch on Facebook Live as Public Ed Advocates meet at the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday, 12/22/20, at 2pm to deliver bags of coal and legislative grade cards.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus. You’re as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch! You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch. Your heart’s an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders. You’ve got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch! I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

Senator Matt Huffman, furthermore known as the Grinch, paid a visit to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee to help Senator Matt Dolan steal the Fair School Funding Plan (HB305/SB376) from public school children, families, and local taxpayers.

The Grinch hated public education! In all the 4 seasons!
Now, please don’t ask why. But we know the reasons

“State Sen. Matt Huffman, who is slated to become Ohio’s next Senate President, said Ohio won’t pass school funding reform this month. Instead, he expects the next legislature to tackle the problem in its first six months. While specifics of his own funding proposal have yet to be released, a sticking point may be changes to the state’s educational choice programs. As a long-time advocate of EdChoice vouchers, Huffman supports state dollars being made available for private schools, which he argues can be operated more cheaply because they lack union restrictions and state mandates.” (Josh Ellerbrock, Lima News)

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right

“HB 305 is the result of years of work and negotiations in the public education community. Sen. Matt Dolan, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said the components of HB 305 need to be in the next state budget bill, which will be passed next year. ‘I remain hesitant to pass this,’ Dolan said. ‘There are still studies that need to be done.’ Sen. Dolan said that the years of work that people have devoted to improving upon the bill couldn’t be vetted by the Senate in a matter of weeks.” (Laura Hancock, Cleveland.com)

But we think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small

“The Ohio Senate is refusing even to consider a new school funding plan, developed over a period of several years to replace the old school funding system that has become progressively unworkable over the past decade. The Ohio House of Representatives passed the proposed new plan by a huge margin: 87-9. But the Ohio Senate Finance Committee has not even chosen to hold open hearings on its own companion bill, Senate Bill 376. The current biennial legislative session will end on December 31, and without consideration by the Ohio Senate and passage by that date, the Fair School Funding Plan will die.” (Jan Resseger, Education researcher/blogger)

The Grinch slid down the chimney, a rather tight pinch,
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch

All the kids’ stockings were hung in a row.
“These stockings,” he shouts, “are the next things to go!”
“Equity, Adequacy, and Residual Budgeting!
Formulas! Resources! ALL GONE!” he sings

“23 years ago the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the elementary and secondary schools of Ohio were neither thorough nor efficient and ordered a complete overhaul of the school funding system. Three years ago Representatives Cupp and Patterson, with the assistance of school superintendents, treasurers and other legislators, crafted a plan to actually respond to the March 24, 1997 court order. After extensive hearing, bill redrafting and more hearings, the Ohio House of Representatives passed the measure by an overwhelming majority. Now, a couple senators in key positions have a convenient response: ‘They are skeptical.’ This response is unconscionable.” (William L. Phillis, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding)

As the Grinch took away SB 376 and then started to leave,
He felt a small tug at the end of his sleeve.
The child stared at the Grinch saying, “Santy Claus, why,
Why steal the Fair School Funding Plan? Why?

“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santa did chime,
“I’m doing this to give us more studies and more time.
Either you want us to get funding right or you don’t.
I can’t let you have it both ways. No, I won’t.

Denying the passage of Senate Bill 376 had nothing to do with giving the Senate “more time to study the Fair School Funding Plan.” That explanation was used to manipulate Ohioans into accepting this despicable action promoted by school privatization zealots.

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch. You’re a nasty-wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks. Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch! The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote,
“Stink, stank, stunk!” 

THANKS to Sen. Bob Cupp and Rep. John Patterson who convened local superintendents and treasurers to develop this fair school funding plan (HB305/SB376) from the ground up using feedback from other frontline educators!

Again, please sign the CHANGE petition asking that the current Fair School Funding Plan be reintroduced in January 2021.

Watch public education advocates on Facebook Live as they join together at the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday, 12/22/20, at 2pm to give the Grinches bags of coal and legislative grade cards.



Written Testimony on Cupp/Patterson Fair School Funding Bill

Chairman Oelslager and members of the House Finance Committee, my name is William L. Phillis, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding. Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of SB 376/HB 305. As a former teacher, principal, superintendent, assistant superintendent of public instruction and currently executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding, I come before this panel in full support of the passage of the Cupp/Patterson Fair School Funding Plan before the end of this year. After it is implemented, it is probable that adjustments will be needed. In future years, changing needs will demand adjustments that could be substantial. The creation of the School Funding Oversight Commission inherent in the current version of the bill is an essential component as a means of recommending needed adjustments and upgrades to the legislature.

Simply stated, a school funding plan must be premised on the actual costs of the educational needs of students and societal expectations of students; hence, the actual cost of high quality educational opportunities, programs and services must be determined. Cupp/Patterson accomplishes these principles.

For far too long, school districts have been forced to provide as much educational programming as possible within the limits of a politically-established amount of school funds available. The Cupp/Patterson funding plan begins with a listing of the components of a quality education; hence, the program drives the level of funding. Historically, there has been a disconnect between the school funding level and the educational programming students need.

The ideal school funding plan would ensure that educational opportunities are quite similar in school districts across the state. While some variations in opportunities would exist due to size, typology and demographics of districts, students should be able to transfer from one district to another without a “shock” in education environment and rigor. Cupp/Patterson is destined to move the system in that direction.

Among the beneficial features of SB 376/HB 305 are:
· The components of a quality education are identified.
· The funding level is based on the cost of components identified.
· A rational basis for determining districts’ capacity to fund a quality education is inherent in the Plan.
· Removal of the two percent property tax millage floor for determining the local share is beneficial to low-wealth, low-income districts; thus a greater level of equity is created.
· Immediate increases in categorical aid for disadvantaged pupils to $422 per pupil is beneficial. Future studies will determine if that amount is sufficient.
· The School Funding Oversight Committee is an essential feature.
· Set aside for school bus purchase of $45 million annually is long overdue.
· Increased state support for the cost of student transportation is an asset.

The work groups have helped craft the Plan. I will leave it to others to provide other specifics. I believe SB 376/HB 305 is a rational plan and is a reasoned approach to respond to the Ohio Supreme Court’s decisions in DeRolph. When fully funded, the Plan will serve Ohio’s school district students in a fiscally and educationally responsible manner.

SB 376/HB 305 will be a great asset to future legislatures. Article VI §2 of the Ohio Constitution requires the state to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state. §3 of Article VI requires the state to provide for the organization, administration and control of the public school system supported by public funds. The protracted, professional efforts involved in the formulation of SB 376/HB 305 should give current legislators confidence that future legislatures can build on the framework being set forth. The heavy lifting has been accomplished. The school Funding Oversight Committee will be in a position to inform the legislative process in the future.

Future legislatures will not have to reinvent the wheel regarding the tedious task of determining the cost of K-12 education. Time available during the budget process is insufficient to effectively determine the funding framework. It took the Cupp/Patterson team of legislators and practitioners three years to do so. Hence, SB 376/HB 305 gives framers of the FY 22/FY 23 state budgets a head start.

The Ohio Constitution requires the state to give priority to the common school system. The framework established by SB 376/HB 305 will provide each General Assembly the roadmap to meet constitutional responsibility.

Significant attempts have been made in the past to perfect an appropriate school funding system. The first school foundation program, enacted in 1935, had a very positive impact on the common school system. The funds provided by the state increased from four percent of school revenue to 50 percent, but by the 1960s the state support had dwindled to 30 percent of the total spent on K-12 education. The state income tax, enacted in the early 1970s, boosted state support to above 45% of the total.

In 1976, the Ohio legislature, after a substantial study by school finance experts engaged by the legislature, adopted the Equal Yield school funding formula. Funding was phased-in beginning with a 17% increase over the previous year’s amount. By the time the formula was fully funded, most of the districts were on the guarantee; hence, the Equal Yield formula was ineffective due to underfunding.

The Equal Yield formula was not premised on the actual cost of a high quality education. It was not premised on the components of a quality education. It was based on a politically-arbitrary per student funding level. Cupp/Patterson is an entirely different approach. It is premised on the components of a quality education. It gives future legislatures a viable framework to meet the constitutional responsibility to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools.

It is imperative that this legislation be enacted before the 133rd General Assembly adjourns sine die. The momentum for passage is in the present. It would take a decade to mount the same level of support for another plan.

Passage this year is imperative.

~William L. Phillis
Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding

PEP Position: Reopening Ohio K-12 School Districts

 We are public education experts.

Public Education Partners (PEP) is a statewide, grassroots public education advocacy group whose mission is to preserve, protect, and strengthen Ohio’s public schools. Public Education Partners is an integral part of education policy deliberations through legislative consultation, Statehouse testimony, and community forums, among other actions. Over 90% of Ohio’s children attend public schools, and Ohio’s public-school system is the largest employer in the state.

The PEP Board is an entirely volunteer group comprised of: 

  • active and retired educators and administrators with a collective total of over 350 years of teaching experience in Ohio’s public schools’ urban, suburban and rural districts
  • public school board members
  • city council members
  • parents and grandparents of Ohio Public School students

PEP is a nonprofit organization that does not endorse political candidates. Public Education Partners has no paid members.

We believe district-sourced remote learning is warranted for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year across Ohio.

PEP believes that opening the school year with full-time remote learning, sourced within school districts, is the best approach to keeping children, school staff and their families safe from the public health crisis of coronavirus infection and spread.

As much as we know teachers miss face-to-face teaching and students miss their school communities and activities, PEP urges Ohio to embrace a statewide commitment to remote learning until the pandemic is brought under control. Returning to school buildings for on-site teaching and learning should be reassessed quarterly following science-based evaluations of the containment of the virus.

The recent rise in coronavirus cases in Ohio is cause for extreme caution. Subsequent to the gradual reopening of Ohio’s economy beginning in mid-May, coronavirus cases dropped 40% until mid-June; after June 21 the number of cases in Ohio has more than doubled through Sunday, July 19.

During the past four weeks, Ohio has recorded twelve of the fourteen highest daily case totals of the entire pandemic, including a record 1,679 cases Friday July 17, another 1,542 cases Saturday July 18, the third-highest number reported since March, and an additional 1,110 cases Sunday July 19.

Currently, more than 60% of Ohioans are living in counties declared a Level 3 Public Emergency: very high exposure and spread. Governor DeWine’s state orders for Level 3 counties call for limiting activities outside the home as much as possible and wearing face coverings inside all public buildings.

A full 36% of total cases throughout the four months of the pandemic have come in the past twenty-five days. The total number of confirmed and probable cases as of Sunday July 19 is 74,932. A record 9,555 Ohioans have been hospitalized, and 3,174 Ohioans have died of COVID-19.

While we all share the goal of returning to school buildings as soon as possible, experimenting with our children’s health and safety does not reflect a society where we put children first.

Given the rise in coronavirus cases, any full-time or “hybrid” plan to reopen school buildings for on-site teaching and learning puts the lives of Ohio’s children, teachers, administration, school staff, and their families at risk.

Our recommendations are rooted in Science.

School districts should reopen according to evidence-based research from scientists, public health experts, and educators. Because children’s welfare relies on schools’ decisions, neither political expediency nor profit motives should be given priority over science.

  • According to health experts, COVID-19 is a highly contagious, deadly disease and the role of children in the transmission of COVID-19 is currently unknown. Health experts fear it can cause potential lifelong damage in children and emphasize that the long-term consequences of coronavirus in children are unknown.
  • A troubling trend concerning children and the virus is the recent report that children in Florida are showing a 31.1 percent positivity rate for COVID-19 infections based on state testing data. Children in Florida are testing positive for the virus at a 20 percent higher rate than adults who have about an 11 percent positivity rate.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recently declared that it was not confident that reopening schools in the middle of this public health crisis is the best option for children. This reversal of its earlier statement exemplifies the speed with which schools continue to receive vague and conflicting information from the medical and scientific communities.
  • This is a novel and evolving virus. There is emerging evidence that airborne transmission is a significant factor in the virus spread. Scientists continue to discover new symptoms, risk factors, and methods of virus transmission. The long-term effects of the disease to Covid-19 survivors are yet unknown.

Ohio is not ready to open schools.

PEP believes that in order for a county to safely reopen its school buildings, the coronavirus transmission rate needs to be scientifically demonstrated to be near zero. Our conviction is consistent with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and ongoing reports from Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) that the United States remains in the first of what will most likely be a series of viral waves.

In Ohio and most of the United States, there has been no flattening of the curve. The data cited above regarding these continuing spikes in infection rates in July is clear evidence the pandemic is not under control.

Other countries, such as New Zealand, Vietnam, and Germany, have responsibly reopened schools but did so only after they flattened the curve and drastically reduced infection rates through rapid case identification, contact tracing, and isolation.

Our recommendations are rooted in our deep commitment to the role of public schools.

Always, our number one priority in public schools is to keep our school communities safe.

The reopening of schools must be primarily about the health and safety of the learning environment, for the sake of students, faculty, support staff, and their families.

Despite exhaustive efforts throughout the state and the country to safeguard a return to school,

  • there is currently no tenable plan for keeping children infection-free in our schools
  • there is currently no tenable plan for keeping adults infection-free in our schools

The realities of education budgets must be considered in any discussion about this pandemic.

State funding:

Ohio’s K-12 public school budget has been slashed by $330 million as an emergency measure to cope with Ohio’s collapsing economy. Financially strapped taxpayers are not able to make up the school funding shortfall with additional school levies bringing higher property taxes for homeowners. Schools would be challenged without a pandemic to make the reduced budget work—in the midst of this global pandemic, unprecedented help is needed.

Pandemic-related expenses:

Neither the state of Ohio nor the federal government has provided adequate resources for increased health and safety precautions in school buildings.

Similarly, increased technological needs necessitated by the pandemic and increased distance learning, such as internet infrastructure and personal computers for all students, have not been met.

School buildings with aging heating and cooling systems lack the filtration features that reduce viral transmissions, and windows that do not open properly to promote air circulation will further increase the chance of pandemic spread.

Following CDC recommendations of keeping schools clean and maintaining six-foot physical distances between people, even in makeshift fashion or reduced capacity, is unrealistic. However careful teachers are to facilitate social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing, students are active social beings who are used to learning and playing close together.

Teacher and staff substitution potential:

Consider some basic facts about Ohio’s teaching workforce-

  • 25% of the teacher workforce is over the age of fifty, which by definition puts them at higher risk of suffering serious illness from Covid-19.
  • Most schools do not have full-time nurses in their buildings.
  • The anticipated medical exemptions for teachers who are immunocompromised or have high-risk health conditions will be significant in number.
  • A shortage of both long-term teachers and substitute teachers that pre-dates the pandemic will only make the infection rates and coverage of teacher absences more difficult for students.
  • Virus testing is neither universally reliable and timely, nor universally available in Ohio.
  • Already during the pandemic, mental health issues have escalated in a significant proportion of the population from anxiety and fear of exposure to the virus. The trauma associated with rapid unexpected change will be exacerbated by every known case of viral spread within schools.
  • The idea of quarantining entire groups of teachers and students upon the discovery of a confirmed case of Covid-19 is untenable, and such disruption compromises the effectiveness of on-site teaching and learning for everyone.

We categorically reject the idea that schools must reopen on behalf of the struggling economy.

PEP believes that federal mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States is the cause of the extreme economic upset that has ensued.  It is neither the schools’ responsibility, nor sound policy, to attempt to remedy the situation by reopening school buildings at high risk to the school communities. The health and safety of Ohio’s students, staff, and families must remain our top priority.


Ohio’s K-12 public school district communities share in the suffering caused by this coronavirus pandemic. Lives have been turned upside down, and the uncertainty of this evolving global crisis causes loss, disequilibrium, and anxiety. PEP believes that moving into the upcoming school year with calm and resolve is the best way to maximize the effectiveness of Ohio’s system of public education.

Public Education Partners continues to be an educational resource for school districts and local communities across Ohio. PEP proposes pooling our collective community resources to keep our public schools safe. Shared responsibility in creating a risk-free school reopening plan will allow us to emerge stronger together in our commitment to public education and the children and families we serve.
















The Reality of Returning to School During the Pandemic

(Photo from Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education)

A strong message from a public school teacher is gaining some traction on social media about returning to school in the fall.

Dan Greenberg made a post on Facebook to help parents understand the realities of what school officials are feeling to as they make plans to return to school in August:

Parents and Community Members –

I want to share some realities with you about school this Fall, because we are trying the best we can in a situation where WE CANNOT WIN, where we don’t have a good solution. Our circumstances are changing rapidly. Our resources are limited. Whatever your school district is doing PLEASE GIVE THEM SOME GRACE. PLEASE STOP TEARING THEM DOWN. PLEASE STOP BASHING THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Know that, if they do a rapid “about face,” they are doing so because they are trying to adapt and do the best they can for children.

Here are four things I’d like you to consider as you think about school reopening:

1. There is no good plan for school this Fall. Every plan has a significant downside. Every plan has serious obstacles. If there was a perfect plan, every school would adopt it. This does not stop school districts from exploring every option possible to make their plans as strong as possible. School district leaders, including administration, Board members and teachers are spending countless hours drafting and re-drafting plans to open school.

2. Plans will change drastically by the time school starts. The plans that sound decent right now, could sound terrible in four weeks. In mid-June, I felt pretty confident about what school would look like in August. Now, I feel completely different about things. The spread of Covid. The politics. The sentiments of community members. They have all changed. I guarantee they will change just as much by mid-August.

3. If we do go back to school in-person every day, I am preparing to be teaching remotely by mid-September. Just look at what is happening at restaurants. One person tests positive and the restaurants shut down (per Health Department policy) for cleaning and for people to quarantine. In schools, it is going to be just like this, if not worse. If one student tests positive, half the people in that school will be connected to that student. And if that student has siblings at another school… That is just one student. It is highly probable that a handful of cases could shut a whole district And it’s highly probable we will quickly have a handful of students who test positive for Covid.

** This is the case at private schools too. I guarantee you, if public schools have to shut down, the private schools will be doing the same thing at the same time. **

4. Splitting classes and having students report every other day helps, but it just delays the inevitable. You know who will still be at school every day? The teachers and other staff members. If half the staff has to quarantine, who is instructing the students? Subs? We never function with half of our staff being absent. We don’t have enough subs for that.

Thanks for your consideration and for your support.

~Dan Greenberg, English teacher, Southview High School, Sylvania City School District

Greenberg is also the president of the Sylvania Education Association.

“We find ourselves, no matter which path we take, coming up with road blocks, significant impediments to one plan or another and things that are going to make it a less than perfect plan,” Greenberg said.

He said he made the Facebook post after feeling the impacts of parent’s frustration as schools begin releasing plans to reopen. He stressed that teachers and leaders are preparing everyday, but the reality is they don’t entirely know what to be prepared for.

He calls this a “no-win” situation. That’s because the circumstances are always changing and area schools have limited resources.

He said have patience, this is the first time they’ve had to create a reopening plan.

Commentary from a Teacher Regarding the Reopening of Schools

Thoughtful Twitter feed from an Ohio public school teacher… who also happens to be a city mayor:

A lot of back and forth has happened regarding opening schools, but I’m not sure people realize what a full reopening would actually look like at the High School level.

At the High School where I teach, we have an average class size of around 25 students. The classes are arranged so each student is sitting about 1.5 feet away from each other.

Over the course of a school day, each teacher instructs during 6 bells. 6 bells x 25 students = 150 students over the course of a day in a setting that is not socially distanced.

Good instruction and classroom management requires the teacher to circulate the classroom to help and provide feedback to each individual student.

Some claim that masks will help. Those people have clearly never had to enforce a school dress code.

I want to be back in the classroom as much as anyone else, and I absolutely want my own children back at school, but a full reopening is not safe for anyone involved.

School boards are being asked to weigh the mental health of students v the physical health of students, their families, and their staff.

This is an impossible task and I applaud the boards who are getting creative to find solutions that won’t make anyone happy.

What school boards, teachers, and most importantly STUDENTS don’t need right now is politicians who have never taught one minute in the classroom asserting their agendas into this already difficult situation.

Even worse is the business community valuing their bottom dollar over the health and safety of the children and staff of our schools.

My district tried to bring sports conditioning back and already had to shut that down because of an active case of Covid. Do these politicians not realize this will happen on day 1 of school this year?

We need to formulate plans assuming that Covid-positive students are going to walk in the door on the first day, many of them asymptomatic. We need reopening plans with less students in each classroom so that they will be socially distanced from each other and their teachers.

If politicians want to help, then they need to be securing public spaces such as libraries, community centers, churches, etc., that can house classes so that students can spread out.

They also need to secure funding to hire paraprofessionals to help monitor students in these auxiliary classrooms as they complete virtual assignments.

Until then, I don’t want to hear another politician or business leader tell the schools to reopen.

I’m in the unique position of being a Mayor and teacher. I’m sure I won’t be 100% happy with the decision my employer makes but I won’t use my political bully pulpit to attack them.

I’m extremely disappointed in my fellow electeds who are making the situation worse.

~James Wolf, Social Studies Teacher at Mt. Healthy High School and Mayor of Mount Healthy, Ohio