April 19, 2013
LIMA — State Rep. Matt Huffman is working on a school funding plan he says will create a consistent and steady increase in education money.
Huffman said Friday while meeting with Lima Senior High School students that he will roll out his full plan to the public this summer.
“What we need is a predictable source of funding from year to year,” he said. “The current funding formula does not do this. It really is a disaster, and a disaster 30 years in the making.”
Huffman has been talking with Allen County school treasurers about school funding for several months. He said he is not trying to get anything in this coming year’s budget. Any funding change could be part of mid-budget reconciliation or something the next General Assembly tackles.
Huffman suggests creating a pool of money from local revenue and then distributing it to districts based on the number of pupils. The biggest problem in the current system, he said, is school districts have different levels of property tax bases.
“That changes all the time with people moving in and out and companies opening and closing,” he said. “If the price of real estate changes or something happens to a particular district, it is not necessarily going to hurt how much that school district gets because they are part of a state-wide pool.”
Huffman also suggests dedicating some portion of revenue from the state, like state sales tax, to education. No one else could get the money, but districts would not get any additional funds. The revenue will grow, Huffman said, allowing districts to better plan for the future.
“Rather than have a fight every two years about whether the urban schools are going to get more or the rural schools are going to get more, everyone has this predictable source of income,” he said.
Huffman said Ohio needs to create a structure where lottery money only goes to education, as it constitutionally is supposed to. Today, he said, lottery money is thrown into the same pot as other money.
The Ohio House budget approved Thursday calls for no district to get less funding than what it currently receives. The plan caps increases at 6 percent. Huffman called that plan a continuation of what has happened in the past many years.
“The problem is that over the past 30 years or so, we have this process where whatever everybody wants or can get done in a few months, that is our school funding,” he said.” So we have a whole lot of sort of crutches and fixes that go on, so we really have this monster that we have now.”