School Funding is Front and Center

Urging Ohio Senate
Posted on 12/09/2020
Image of School Funding Legislators(Brandon Simmons for wkyc.com)

Last week, the Ohio House has approved a bipartisan proposal to overhaul the state’s unconstitutional school funding system. But it remains uncertain whether the Senate will vote on it this month.

House Bill 305 passed overwhelmingly 87-9 on December 3 and provides the framework for how school's should be funded going forward.

Some GOP lawmakers there question the accuracy and feasibility of the eventual price tag, an estimated $2 billion annually. Lawmakers championing the proposal for a more equitable funding distribution are urging action before year’s end, when several of them leave office and the legislative process restarts with the next General Assembly.

But the leader of the Senate Finance Committee has suggested more evaluation is needed and the changes should be considered during next year’s state budget process.

Dozens of educators, including district superintendents and treasurers held a virtual press conference Tuesday urging the senate to vote on the new legislation as soon as possible.

"School funding in Ohio is pretty complicated," said Ryan Pendleton, Chief Financial Officer for Akron Public Schools. "Pretty complicated to the extent that there’s been 4 supreme court rulings that it’s been declared unconstitutional."

Pendleton played a key role in shaping the new plan for school funding for the last 3 years with a team of school leaders from around the state. He says the plan is robust and helps provide a transparent, easy-to-understand method for funding school districts across the state in an equitable way.

School districts like what the plan achieves -- many expressing overwhelming support of what it includes.

Akron Schools said in a press release:

"It would make the distribution of state funds more equitable by using a more precise measure of local capacity to pay for public schools. The plan would end funding vouchers and end using public schools’ individual budgets to fund charter schools. The bill’s sponsors say this so-called deduction funding has drained resources out of local districts, creating greater funding inequality, fueling greater reliance on dwindling local funds, and reducing educational opportunities for students, particularly in districts with concentrated poverty."

Educators hope state senators follow the lead of colleagues in the state house -- urging them to vote on funding as soon as possible.
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