LIMA — State Rep. Robert Cupp told a group of area school superintendents Monday “The Fair School Funding Plan” put together by he and Rep. John Patterson will not be part the Ohio House budget.
Instead, it likely will be replaced by a proposal developed by newly elected Governor Mike DeWine.
The announcement was made during an education roundtable with local school officials hosted by The Lima News on Monday. The session brought to light the current discussion going on in the state legislature in regards to how schools are funded.
The earmarks in the DeWine plan concerned Don Horstman, superintendent of Ottawa-Glandorf schools.
“My fear with the governor’s plan is that when you have the money, you are being told how to spend it, regardless of how it affects your local district,” Horstman said.
“Putting the money in the funding formula is where it needs to be,” he added.
James Kanable, superintendent of Shawnee schools, agreed.
“Give us local control. That’s the bottom line,” Kanable said. “So many things have been done to us instead of for us.”
He explained that as time goes on, mandates that once were a high priority can become less of a priority as new lawmakers take office.
“Yet we’re still saddled with having to deal with those issues that were presented to us,” said Kanable.
Cupp said he has heard three main concerns about his“Fair School Funding Plan.”
“One is the cost of the plan, two is that urban districts with high concentrations of students in poverty were not getting a significant enough increase, and on the end of the spectrum, rural districts with high poverty didn’t believe they were getting enough of an increase from this plan,” said Cupp.
The differences between DeWine’s plan and Cupp-Patterson are not overwhelming.
“The governor’s plan essentially freezes the funding under the formula for everyone, including joint vocational districts, and then would send money for social services in place of additional money through the formula, what he calls Wellness and Success funds for basically wrap-around services and something closely related to that,” said Cupp.
Reaction to the Cupp-Patterson plan was initially positive, but when the number crunching began, the problems appeared.
Linda Haycock, of Lima, who is a member of the State Board of Education, said some constituents have voiced concern about Cupp-Patterson being fair to the impoverished.
“When Representative Cupp presented it to the board, I think the foundation of how they came up with Cupp-Patterson, taking a typical kid, what is required, I think the theory behind it was fabulous. But then when the numbers were imposed on it, it seems to digress from a typical kid whether it’s urban or rural, and so I think that is a concern. Those kids do require more resources,” Haycock said.
Cupp and Patterson spent the last 15 months working on the plan, involving superintendents and treasurers from schools of all sizes. The plan is still a work in progress, he said.
Those issues are being worked on in committee.
“As we are speaking now, a meeting is going on with the rural poor districts to see if we can find a way of boosting their funding a bit. We think we have found a solution to the urban districts in high poverty and so we’re hoping to put all of this together,” said Cupp, who joined The Lima News discussion by teleconference.
Cupp says they were able to bring the cost of the plan down by doing a six-year phase-in instead of a four-year phase-in.
“The cost would be quite similar to what is now in the House budget for primary and secondary education and particularly in the second fiscal year. We’re going to continue to work on it. The speaker has encouraged us to do that. He has expressed support for it, but wants to try to work out these other issues,” said Cupp.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.