Lawmakers pushing to pass an overhaul of Ohio’s convoluted school funding system to make it more equitable have come up short during this legislative session, bumping it to the Legislature’s 2021 to-do list.
The House approved a bipartisan proposal earlier this month, but Republicans in the Senate, who hold a majority, indicated senators won’t vote on the plan before the legislative process restarts in January.
Earlier this week, Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey encouraged the community to reach out to state legislators and “make our voices heard by urging the Ohio Senate to continue committee hearings and act on Senate Bill 376 this General Assembly.”
Bailey said the bill would not only greatly benefit WCHCS and the community, it would create a new school financing system that is more equitable for students across Ohio.
“It has been over 20 years since Ohio’s current school funding system was deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court, and no action on this bill prior to the end of the year would continue to set back education in our state years to come,” Bailey said earlier this week. “After over two decades of waiting for the state to fix school funding, now is the chance to step in the right direction for the kids of our community and our state.”
The Senate Finance Committee’s GOP chairman, Sen. Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls, said more analysis is needed about the accuracy and feasibility of the proposal’s eventual price tag, an estimated $2 billion. Dolan said he wants to work on the funding formula in conjunction with the state budget process happening during the first half of 2021.
The proposal would eliminate funding caps and guarantees, and take into account a community’s ability to help fund its schools, factoring in not only property values but local income levels. It also would route public charter school funding directly from the state rather than through local districts.
Supporters said the plan would address many problems with the complicated funding patchwork created since Ohio’s formula was found unconstitutional in 1997.