Public school groups push for fair funding plan


By Mackenzi Klemann - mklemann@limanews.com



LIMA — Educators and policy groups are continuing to urge Ohio lawmakers to adopt the Fair School Funding Plan, which would increase state funding for public schools and revise the funding formula so aid is based on the cost of educating the average student, rather than fluctuating based on what’s happening in other districts.

Lawmakers have debated alternative funding mechanisms since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state’s school funding model was unconstitutional in 1997.

The latest proposal, first drafted by House Speaker Bob Cupp and Rep. John Patterson, would determine how much a school district can raise on its own by looking at local property taxes and incomes. And the plan would create a separate fund for charter and private school vouchers, so funding is not diverted from public schools.

“As a mother of three, I get very frustrated knowing that our ZIP code affects the cost of education for my children,” said Amber Basares, a parent in the Lima schools district who offered her support for the school funding plan Wednesday.

Basares spoke briefly during a press conference for the All in For Ohio Kids campaign, which is pressing lawmakers to adopt the fair funding plan and is planning town halls across the state to educate parents and community members.

“Ohio’s upside-down tax system starves our public schools and the unfair school funding system prevents too many Ohio kids from getting a fair shot,” said Wendy Patton, a senior policy director for Policy Matters Ohio, a progressive think tank involved in the All in For Ohio Kids campaign.

Patton said the state provides less school funding today when adjusted for inflation than it did 10 years ago as lawmakers have prioritized tax cuts. But the fair funding plan, she said, would take pressure off communities by basing state funding on the actual cost of educating a student and using the same calculation for all districts.

Policy Matters released a report Wednesday detailing how insufficient state funding has failed to keep pace with the cost of educating students and forced districts to rely heavily on local levies, exacerbating inequities between affluent districts and those with high concentrations of poverty.

The report highlights challenges facing rural and suburban districts too, the latter of which have seen rapidly increasing enrollment.

The campaign is planning a virtual townhall for parents and community members in the Lima area next Thursday.

Lima schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman and others have expressed their support for the Fair School Funding Plan, petitioning lawmakers to quickly adopt the plan that has been in the works for years.

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By Mackenzi Klemann

mklemann@limanews.com

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