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School Funding Overhaul Overwhelmingly Passes House, Faces Senate Opposition

State Reps. Bob Cupp, left, and John Patterson discuss the latest version of their proposal to overhaul to school funding in Ohio system at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
Kantele Franko
/
AP
State Reps. Bob Cupp, left, and John Patterson discuss the latest version of their proposal to overhaul to school funding in Ohio system at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

A school funding overhaul that’s been in the works for five years passed the Ohio House by a huge margin Thursday and is on its way to the Senate. Supporters say it’s the first constitutional plan since the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state's system in 1997, but it might not get far.

Applause broke out in the House as the bill passed 87-9. The bill, named for House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson), was introduced last summer after discussions with stakeholders around the state in the spring.

It uses 60% property values and 40% income to calculate the state money for each district. Patterson said it also eliminates the caps and guarantees on state money in the current formula.

“Do you realize that out of our 600 school districts we have over 500 that are either on the guarantee or on the cap?" Patterson said on the House floor. "And in anybody’s mathematical calculations, that is a formula that is not working."

The plan took months of reworking after school lobbying groups raised questions. But they praised this version as a constitutional proposal, and wrote letters to lawmakers in support of it.

But this and the bipartisan Senate version, sponsored by state Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), face an uphill battle.

At least one Senator has raised concerns that if it’s fully funded, it's estimated it would add nearly $2 billion to the over $10 billion already spent on schools.