School Funding

Lawmakers Confident in Overhaul of School Funding in State Budget


Two state lawmakers, including the chairman of the Senate Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education, say a proposed new funding formula is still alive in Ohio’s biennial budget.

State Senator Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware, assured a recent central Ohio virtual town hall that included local education officials that despite the fact that the majority of the funding formula introduced during the last General Assembly has passed away at the end of the year, on biennial budget brings with it the formula that reduces the burden of property taxes and expands eligibility for voucher programs for private schools.

“I believe in this budget there will be a formula for funding schools,” said Brenner.

The total bill for the phased introduction of the formula over six years will be closer to $ 2.2 billion, rather than the price of $ 1.8 billion. the founders of the formula estimated, Brenner said, but may have the backing of Gov. Mike DeWine, needed to get the budget bill signed and enacted.

“Gov. DeWine has indicated that he will support something as long as it is sustainable, ”Brenner told City Hall.

In a Northeastern Ohio version of the same virtual town hall, hosted by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Senator Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, said the Democratic caucus had submitted several amendments to ensure the language protected funding for economically disadvantaged students and direct funding. EdChoice coupons remain in the budget as it goes through the Senate Finance Committee’s full review.

Williams has expressed concern with lawmakers who fear their “suburban districts” will lose money as the formula levels out districts that have been seen as underfunded over the years.

She also spoke of members of the “majority party in the House of Representatives and Senate,” who believe the vouchers should be available to all students in the state.

One two pages, Republican bill entered the House in early May, declaring “the intention of the General Assembly” to amend the revised Ohio code and allow all students to have the option of funding students “to follow them through. schools they attend ”. These schools could include community schools, STEM schools, and private schools.

“So I think they’re trying to really dismantle public education as we know it,” Williams said during Northeast Ohio City Hall.

Local school treasurers and leaders of educational associations have said the funding formula is what is needed to maintain the condition of schools that have been aided by federal aid funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Parma City School District receives $ 10 million in federal funds to help keep schools running, including to keep teachers employed, but the $ 11 million they lose each year to benefit schools in charter and coupons would make it a loss.

“With (the financing plan in the budget), we might have a chance to be able to pass taxes, because we won’t have to have them that often,” said Sue Messinger, of the Parma Education Association. “It could totally remake education in Ohio, I think.”

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is considered a wealthy district because of its dense population, but the student body remains very poor, making shared funding important in the district, according to Scott Gainer, treasurer of the district.

In the current funding model, this funding shared between state and local districts is “shared, but it is not equal,” Gainer told mayor.

“94% of the students at the good EdChoice (in the district) have never been enrolled in our schools,” Gainer said. “We are not losing students because of EdChoice vouchers, we are losing money.”

Brenner said he and the Senate had “come to recognize” that the vouchers for private schools, as well as the comprehensive services needed for students outside academics, are something that needs to be brought under control, with districts losing ground. money if necessary.

“The choice of schools is excellent, except for districts that are capped and schools that should be receiving money,” Brenner said.

Brenner said the Senate plans to present its version of the full budget in early June, when it goes to the conference committee, for approval by the full legislature by July 1.

This story has been republished from Ohio Capital Newspaper under a Creative Commons license.


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