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School Business Official Encouraged By Proposed Funding Formula

Ohio State Reps. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, left, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, announce their proposed overhaul of Ohio's school funding formula at the Statehouse in Columbus, Monday, March 25, 2019.
John Minchillo
Associated Press

State Reps. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) are traveling around the state to present their new school funding formula proposal to different teachers and school administrators around Ohio.

The lawmakers say their formula ends up accurately reflecting how much state money each school district needs.

Jim Rowan, executive director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, says in his 25 years this is the closest a plan has ever come to creating equity and adequacy in state school funding.

“What is the cost to educate the student to prepare them for the 21st century? And by looking at that and developing a methodology around that I think is a much different formula than what we’ve seen in the past,” Rowan says.

However, Rowan notes that most of Ohio's large, urban school districts will see little to no increase in funding. Columbus, the state's largest district, would see a boost of $5.5 million next year and $16.2 million the year after, but Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown would get no increase. Rowan says more can still be done to improve the formula.

“But for 85 percent of the districts we feel like this is a great first start, now we just got to tweak the formula and figure out how we can meet the needs of the other 15 percent outliers,” Rowan says.

Cupp and Patterson point out that the current formula does not work for about 82 percent of Ohio's school districts, with a "cap limiting funding or a guarantee underpinning it."

Their plan, which ends up increasing school funding by $720 million over two years, would need legislative approval.