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Man Behind Original Ohio School Funding Case Sees Promise In New Proposal

Bill Phillis, who was behind the first lawsuit over school funding in Ohio in 1991 is encouraged by a new funding proposal.
Karen Kasler
/
Ohio Public Radio
Bill Phillis, who was behind the first lawsuit over school funding in Ohio in 1991 is encouraged by a new funding proposal.

The man who filed the 1991 lawsuit that led to Ohio’s school funding system being ruled unconstitutional four times says a new funding formula from two state lawmakers is on the right track. His optimism, though, comes with a caveat.

Bill Phillis, whose Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding helped bring the DeRolph case, said he thinks the formula from state Reps. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Ashtabula) would satisfy the concerns raised in the DeRolph ruling – which said Ohio was too reliant on property taxes to fund public schools.

However, Phillis said that will be true under one condition.

“The state will have to ante up more money. I don’t think there’s any question about that. Historically, that’s been the problem,” Phillis said.

The new formula includes funding based on student-teacher ratios, more money for students in poverty and a 60-40 standard for the district’s share of funding based on property value and income.

Cupp and Patterson said they want to discuss the concept before releasing financial details on Friday.