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Government/Politics

Ohio School Groups, Education Advocates Pleased But Cautious About Budget

Students at Worthington Kilbourne High School came back to class in March, with COVID protocols in place.
Dan Konik
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Students at Worthington Kilbourne High School came back to class in March, with COVID protocols in place.

Groups representing Ohio school districts, teachers and education officials are pleased the final state budget includes what’s been called the Fair School Funding plan, an overhaul of the formula by which Ohio calculates state aid to schools.

But those advocates have warnings about it for school workers, parents and voters.

The plan determines state aid based on a formula of 60% local property taxes, 40% household income, along with other factors, and boosts K-12 funding by $564 million.

"This is a bold and historic decision that will reverberate for decades", said Rick Lewis, the chief executive officer of the Ohio School Boards Association.

"It will provide the framework for the state of Ohio to finally meet its constitutional mandate of providing a world-class education to every Ohio public school student, regardless of location or station," said Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro.

Ohio Association of School Business Officials Deputy Executive Director Katie Johnson wrote, "It has taken us over three years to get to this point."

But the plan will need hundreds of millions of dollars from lawmakers down the road to be fully implemented.

Estimates on the initial House plan would have it costing $1.8 billion more than the state already spends on public education. But with updated financial data, that total was likely to be over $2 billion more.

“The viability and success of this funding plan hinges on the commitment of future General Assemblies to fully implement and fully fund the plan," Will Schwartz with the Ohio School Boards Association said.. "Without that commitment, Ohio can’t solve this issue and our funding system will be incomplete."

While advocates for the Fair School Funding plan say it will mean a more reliable school funding system that officials can plan on, they caution that it won’t totally eliminate the need for school levies.

(NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the budget adds $564 million to K-12 education.)

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