APS Treasurer Instrumental in Process

School Funding Formula Takes a Significant Step
Posted on 12/03/2020
Image of APS LogoReferred to as SUB House Bill 305, a process to create a funding formula for Ohio schools that began three years ago passed in the House this afternoon (84-8). 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.

Public school funding in Ohio has been in disarray for decades. In fact, the system used was ruled unconstitutional more than 20 years ago by the Ohio Supreme Court in the first DeRolph decision. A distinction of this bill is it 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.

The local capacity to fund schools and the burden on taxpayers can vary widely from community to community. Further, different 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. One size does not fit all.

While the bill provides a blueprint for spending, it does not actually fund the plan. That would take place in the budget process. The estimated cost of a fully funded plan would require a $1.9 billion increase in state funds. The architects recommend a six-year period to phase in the plan.

“We are establishing $7,200 as the base cost for providing a general education of high quality to a typical student (a student without special needs),” said Akron Public Schools CFO Ryan Pendleton. Pendleton serves as co-chairperson of the Base Cost Subcommittee of the Cupp-Patterson School Funding Workgroup. “The base cost,” he added, “was defined through a thorough assessment of the components and actual cost of operating a school district and educating children.”

Pendleton pointed out that the bill 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. It also 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.
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