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Two bills seek to address unconstitutional public school funding as lame duck session begins

Ohio Capital Journal and WOSU |

Running parallel to a House Bill in the works for years, Ohio state senators have introduced a similar proposal to equalize the public school budget formula and set up the next General Assembly with a “blueprint” for a funding overhaul.

In a virtual press conference on Friday, state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, and Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Columbus, laid out Senate Bill 376, which echoes the House bill’s priorities, especially stopping an overreliance on property values to determine school district funding.

Senators joined in with a working group looking at House Bill 305 and used changes made during the process to formulate the senate bill they filed on Thursday, and plan to bring to committee this week.

This Senate plan makes some changes Cupp-Patterson plan, which was developed by a bipartisan task force to make the distribution of school funding more equitable. Lehner says the Senate version changes the formula to allow poor school districts to get more money.

“This precisely captures the capacity of the local district to pay, and is a reflection of the second central holding of DeRolph, that school funding must not produce an over-reliance on local property taxes,” Lehner says.

If passed, the bill would be phased in over six years, but as the Senate’s bill shows it, would focus on direct classroom instruction for 60% of the funding, followed by building leadership and operations (20%), instructional & student supports (15%) and direct leadership & accountability (5%).

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