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Government/Politics

School Funding Overhaul Overwhelmingly Passes House, But Could Stop There

Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima, left) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) talked about their school funding formula in a press conference in March 2019. Cupp became speaker in July 2020.
Karen Kasler
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Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima, left) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) talked about their school funding formula in a press conference in March 2019. Cupp became speaker in July 2020.

A school funding overhaul that’s been in the works for five years passed the Ohio House by a huge margin and is on its way to the Senate. Supporters say it’s the first constitutional plan since the Ohio Supreme Court struck down school funding 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 a district’s state money.

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 Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and 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.

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