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Senate hears arguments on plan to overhaul Ohio’s school funding formula

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Overhauling how Ohio pays for your child’s education is a process that’s been years in the making. It’s been 24 years since the Ohio Supreme Court declared the state’s funding formula unconstitutional in 1997.

Despite some changes over the years, critics of the current system say it’s broken, but there’s a plan to fix it.

They argue wealthier districts benefit from the formula, while poorer districts are left behind.

Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler is part of a group that’s spent the last three and a half years looking for a fair funding formula for the state’s K-12 school system.

Wednesday, he wrapped up a second-straight day of testimony in front of the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Senators are debating the new funding plan that’s included as part of the House-proposed budget.

“It is the most comprehensive and complete proposal seen in decades,” Hosler said Wednesday.

The current funding formula is heavily dependent on property taxes and forces many districts to rely on voter-approved levies to balance their budgets.

The new method aims to focus on leveling the playing field.

“We all agree we don’t have a functioning formula,” said Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), who sits on the committee.

75% of all state money would go straight to the classroom.

The base costs to fund each district with state dollars would depend on their needs ... like how much it costs to pay for teachers, extra-curricular activities, and support staff.

The estimated average cost to pay for each student is $7,200.

“This comprehensive plan starts with the moment students are picked up in the morning until they log off their school computer that night,” Hosler said.

The new formula would be based 60% on property taxes and 40% on household income.

It would add an estimated $1.99 billion dollars in education funding in Ohio phased in over the next six years, though that figure could change depending on shifting enrollment figures in Ohio’s schools.

The House passed a similar funding plan as its own bill late last year.

It didn’t get a vote in the Senate.

“To dismiss this plan would essentially mean endorsing our current broken system, which in good times and bad times, fails our students and taxpayers year after year,” Hosler said.

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