School Finance Agenda
We support the Fair School Funding Plan, a bipartisan effort driven by local education leaders, including superintendents/CEOs and treasurers/CFOs. Ohio has long needed a rational, transparent, comprehensive and – most of all – fair system for funding its schools. For years, our school funding formula and system has not been based on the actual resource needs of our students, schools and communities. To meet the challenges ahead, to continue progress, Ohio needs to change school funding now.
Students need more education than ever to reach their potential and become effective members of our workforce and communities. To sustain our economy and communities, the time to overhaul a school funding system that does not meet student needs – and create one that strengthens our talent and workforce with better education – is now.
In an effort to bring school funding into the 21st Century, the Fair School Funding Plan’s new formula will provide instructional resources to ensure high quality education for Ohio’s children. Decisions to spend base funds should be locally controlled. How much funding each district receives should be based on the actual cost of educating its students. The responsibility of these costs should be shared between the state and local district, with the local share based upon the ability of a school district’s community to generate revenue based upon its income level and its property values (i.e., district capacity). District capacity should be clearly defined. The formula should minimize funding guarantees and caps. It should allocate state funds using a rational, defensible formula. Additionally, we believe the formula should incorporate:
- Funding levels based on reliable data for education costs, and proven education programs and resources that will allow all students to succeed, including funding for school safety and mental health services.
- A system that reduces the frequency of levies at the local level.
- A system that offers alternative educational opportunities for students, or “choice options,” funded directly by the state – not deducted from a school district’s funding, provided that school districts not be negatively impacted when direct funding is implemented. Any choice option that takes public dollars should be accountable to the public.
Beyond base funding, the state must respond strategically to critical needs that impact some districts more than others. Thus, the Fair School Funding Plan includes additional state aid to accomplish the following:
- Address issues associated with poverty and mental health
- Help special needs, gifted, and new English language learners
- Upgrade educational technology and learning materials
- Bolster vital STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
- Support high-quality preschool for young children
- Improve school security, and lower the age of school bus fleets to enhance safety
- Send school choice funds directly to each student’s actual education provider (school)
- Fund the important services of our Career Technology and Educational Service Centers
Fair School Funding Plan should base state school funding on actual student needs to succeed. It should treat all Ohio school districts and taxpayers fairly, based on capacity to pay. Together, we strive to ensure that Ohio’s children will have the quality educational opportunities they all deserve. And together, we can adopt a comprehensive, fair school funding plan that meets the needs of Ohio’s children, future workforce, economy, and communities in the years ahead. It’s the right change to continue our progress and Ohio needs it now.
In addition, we support:
- A system that includes grant programs for school districts that promote innovation. These grant programs must be flexible in permissible expenditures and stable within the funding period(s). Reporting for grant monies should be reasonable and manageable.
- A system that promotes and removes barriers to efficiencies in school district operations.
- A system that fully funds new education initiatives and legislative requirements.
- A system that includes a reasonable replacement plan when the state passes legislation changing local funding sources.
- A system that requires local school districts to be involved in tax policy decisions when decisions impact local revenue.
- A system that prohibits the funding of private school tuition with public tax dollars.
- Fiscal and academic accountability standards should be consistently applied to all schools which receive state funds.