Education Finance

Education Finance

Advocate for Fair School Funding Legislation During Lame Duck – November 2020

The Ohio Constitution requires the legislature to provide adequate and equitable funding so every student in every public school district has the benefit of a sound education regardless of the local community’s capacity to fund its public schools.

More than 20 years after the Ohio Supreme Court found Ohio’s funding system to be unconstitutional in the first DeRolph decision, a remedy is at hand. Thanks to bipartisan leadership by Rep. John Patterson and House Speaker Bob Cupp, and Senator Peggy Lehner and Senator Vernon Sykes, Substitute House Bill 305 and the companion legislation, Senate Bill 376 propose the Fair School Funding Plan, a genuine solution.

This proposal is what we need now, to stabilize and improve this essential public resource, our public schools.

The legislature must act by the end of the Lame Duck session if this long-awaited remedy is to be implemented.

Why Sub. HB 305? And Why Now?
 
Students, school districts, and taxpayers all deserve a workable and fair system. Sub. HB 305 is comprehensive and a meaningful blueprint for the investment of public funds. It is a serious response to the DeRolph imperative and deserves support. How well it succeeds will depend on the investment the legislature makes during the budget process. Here are the merits of passing this bill now:

1. Public school funding is in tatters and school districts are financially vulnerable.

2. Sub. HB 305 is ready for adoption. It was developed over three years through a model process of thorough, informed, and transparent policy making led by education practitioners.

3. Sub. HB 305 is fair. It is driven by a commitment to an inspired vision of what public schools can accomplish, and it is based on the actual cost of providing for a quality education.

4. Sub. HB 305 makes the distribution of state funds more equitable by using a more precise measure of local capacity to pay for public schools.

5. Sub. HB 305 ends funding vouchers, charter schools, and inter-district transfers by deducting those dollars from state aid owed to districts. This “deduction funding” drains resources out of local districts, creates greater funding inequality, fuels greater reliance on local funds, and reduces education opportunities for students, particularly in districts with concentrated poverty.

6. Failure to act would mean chaos going forward. There is no “plan B” or prospect of a solution that could meet the quality of this proposal.

7. It’s about time!


Key Features of the Fair School Funding Plan

The Ohio Constitution calls for a state and local partnership to fund a high-quality education in Ohio’s system of common schools. The local capacity to fund schools and the burden on tax payers can vary widely. Similarly, individual children have different needs. State resources are essential to ensuring that all children have access to a high quality of education regardless of their needs or where they live.

The legislation as introduced:

1. Defines how to use state resources to improve access to high-quality education for all students. The plan seeks to provide adequate resources for an education that goes beyond the basics, which can ignite life-long learners, develop thoughtful citizens and protect democracy, and prepare our youth to contribute to the economy and society.

2. Provides a blueprint for spending but does not actually fund the plan. That would take place in the budget process. The architects recommend a six-year period to phase in most of the plan.

3. Establishes a base cost for providing a general education of high quality to a typical student (a student without special needs). The base cost was defined through a thorough assessment of the components and the actual cost of operating a school district and educating children. They include: pupil/teacher ratios supported by national research and state practice, Ohio data regarding salaries and benefits are applied. It also includes resources for professional development for teachers, addressing the health, safety, social, and emotional needs of students, academic and athletic co-curricular activities, technology, and the general operation of school buildings and districts, including building and central office leadership and staff.

4. Uses both the property wealth of a community and the median income of its residents to define the local capacity to fund education. This more accurately and fairly defines the local contribution to the base cost.

5. Ends deduction funding for open enrollment, community schools, and vouchers, removing this expense from local school districts and making it part of the state budget.

6. Increases Categorical Aid for children living in poverty, pre-k education, special education, gifted, and English language learners. It also appropriates $5 million for research to more accurately capture costs for each category.

7. Increases the state contribution to student transportation, makes policy changes to reduce district transportation costs, and accounts for diverse challenges of compact and sprawling school districts.

8. Increases funds for Educational Service Centers.
 

Resources

 

LWVO Position on Education Finance

LWVO has a long history of interest in Fair School Funding. Here are key positions which serve as the basis for our advocacy.

1. LWVO supports a funding system for public elementary and secondary education that is accountable and responsive to the taxpayers. LWVO believes that public funds should be used only for public schools.

2. LWVO supports a guarantee by the state of a realistic level of per pupil expenditure in all school districts…

3. State aid should be distributed to compensate for variations among school districts in their ability to raise local revenue to fund education.

4. The state aid formula should be calculated to reflect: a. the actual costs to school districts for state-mandated programs; b. meeting the educational eeds of the children within the district; c. consideration of the economic/geographic characteristics of school districts statewide.

5. Individual school districts should be required to assume a reasonable share of the financial burden and should retain the option of increasing per pupil expenditure beyond this level through local taxes.

For more information on LWVO's postion on Education Funding, read LWVO Agenda for Action 2019-2021 -- refer to pages 21, 22, 23 Read Here


Fair School Funding Plan

LWVH Fair School Funding Workshop - Featuring Ryan Pendleton -- Nov 12, 2020 Watch Here

First Hearing on Substitute HB 305 in House Finance Committee -- Nov 10, 2020 Watch Here

Press Conference for SB 376 (Senate Companion Bill to HB 305) -- Nov 6, 2020 Watch Here

Detailed Explanation of SB 376 (Senate Companion Bill to HB 305) -- Slide Presentation View Here

Comparison of Substitute HB 305 and HB 305 Read Here

District Funding Model - Base Cost Example Read Here

Fair School Funding Plan Website Read Here

 

Media

Q&A: Ohio School Funding Reforms With OEA President Scott DiMauro - WOSU, Nov 16, 2020 HERE

Norwalk City School District Urges Lawmakers to Pass Fair School Funding Proposal - Norwalk Reflector, Nov 16, 2020 HERE

COVID-19 Budget Woes Pose Challenge for Ohio’s Long-Awaited School Funding Overhaul - The74Million.org, Nov 15, 2020 HERE

An Ohio Lame-Duck Session With Purpose, if School-Funding Reform is Adopted and HB 6 Repealed: Editorial - Cleveland.com, Nov 15, 2020 HERE

New State Formula Could Make School Funding More Fair for Districts Like Bowling Green City Schools - BG Independent Media, Nov 13, 2020 HERE

Ohio Lawmakers Finally Have A Chance To Pass a Fair School Funding Plan: Susie Kaeser - Cleveland.com, Nov 13, 2020 HERE

Time Is Running Out for Lawmakers Hoping to Overhaul Ohio's School Funding Formula - Columbus Dispatch, Nov 13, 2020 HERE

Two Bills Seek to Address Unconstitutional Public School Funding Before Year’s End - Ohio Capitol Journal, Nov 9, 2020 HERE

State Senators Announce Fair School Funding Plan Bill - Star Beacon, Nov 7, 2020 HERE

Ohio Lawmakers Renew Effort on School Funding Formula - LimaOhio.com, Nov 6, 2020 HERE

Lawmakers Pushing Revamped Plan To Overhaul Ohio's School-Funding Formula By End Of Year - Columbus Dispatch - Nov 6, 2020 HERE

Lame Duck Push On To Change How Ohio Funds Schools - Toledo Blade, Nov 6, 2020 HERE

Ohio School Boards Association - Nov 6, 2020 HERE

The Ohio Senate, 133rd General Assembly - Nov 6, 2020 HERE

Despite State Budget Woes, Lawmakers Pushing To Revamp Ohio School Funding By End of 2020 - Columbus Dispatch, Oct 22, 2020 HERE

School Funding Bill To Get Another Look Under New Ohio House Speaker - TiffinOhio.net, Aug 20, 2020 HERE