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Politics

Ohio Senate Makes Big Changes To School Funding Overhaul

Students in the classroom
Columbus Neighborhoods
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A battle is coming over the school funding formula overhaul introduced in the Senate’s version of the budget on Tuesday, which blows up the one proposed in the House that school groups and education advocates supported.

The House overhaul of the state's school funding formula calculates per-student aid based on 60% property taxes and 40% income taxes. That was the basis of House Bill 1, which was a reintroduction of what was known as the Cupp-Patterson bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly last December.

The Senate budget uses teacher salary, a student-teacher ratio and other money to calculate per-student aid:

  • 80% of average teacher salary + benefits $72,440 divided by student/teacher ratio of 20:1 = $3,622
  • Eight teacher development days: $161
  • Building administrative costs and operations: $1,357
  • Student support: $625
  • District administrative costs: $344

Current per-student aid is $6,020. The House version bumps that up to $7,020. The Senate plan takes it to $6,110.

The president of the state’s largest teachers union, the Ohio Education Association, said the Senate plan moves in the wrong direction.

Scott DiMauro said the Senate's formula takes the state back toward the "state share" approach, and it ignores why Ohio’s way of funding schools was first ruled unconstitutional in 1997 due to its reliance on property taxes.

"Keep in mind that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that our system is unconstitutional for two fundamental reasons," DiMauro said. "Number one, because of our system's over-reliance on local property wealth to determine school funding. The House plan addresses that. The Senate plan does not."

DiMauro adds that the House's plan addresses an item highlighted by the Supreme Court, while the Senate plan does not.

"The second thing that the Supreme Court said is that there is not a commitment to adequately fund our schools that's tied to the actual cost of educating a child. The House plan addresses that. The Senate plan does not.”

Senate leaders have said their formula is more sustainable and predictable than the House plan, and puts nearly $223 million more into schools than the House budget does.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.