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Advocates, legislators want more from governor’s education budget

Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal |

With no changes planned for the state education funding formula included in Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed budget, education advocates and some state legislators are left wanting more.

“The devil is always in the details,” said Scott DiMauro, head of the Ohio Education Association, in a statement after the release of the budget. “Education spending must be a top priority in Ohio to ensure our students, educators and communities receive the resources they need to succeed.”

DeWine’s budget proposal brings funding back to pre-pandemic levels and includes a jump in non-academic wraparound services, but saves the bulk of changes to education funding for the legislature to figure out.

The OEA said they were encouraged by an expansion to broadband access and mental health services as part of the support for schools.

“However, OEA is disheartened to see the same amount of general revenue fund money is going into the state’s foundation formula as in (fiscal year) 18,” the association wrote in their statement.

Another of Ohio’s biggest teachers unions, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, agreed that DeWine “chose to punt” on overhauling the school funding system without acknowledging the Cupp-Patterson plan, some of which went into the capital budget last year, but for the most part stays in limbo as the General Assembly begins anew.

“Additionally, the governor’s budget maintains the disastrous local funding deductions for charter and private schools that have been draining public school budgets,” said OFT President Melissa Cropper in a statement.

The non-profit Ohio Children’s Alliance praised the “key investments for Ohio’s children and families” that the governor carried over from the previous biennial budget, and said they were pleased to see more money go toward student wellness and youth services.

“With the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 has caused to communities and providers, targeting investments in telehealth and the child and family services workforce are critical parts of a comprehensive solution,” said Mark Mecum, CEO of the OCA.

State Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, called the governor’s proposal “shortsighted” when it comes to education and support for children.

“We should be fixing our unconstitutional funding formula — not continuing to siphon more public school dollars to private education,” Fedor said after the budget proposal was released.

With the school funding now in the legislature’s hands, House Minority Leader Emila Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said it would be a primary issue as the House Democrats begin their work, including “fully and fairly funding our public schools.”

“We look forward to digging into the details of the governor’s proposal to see how it makes sense long-term without one time money and that it delivers on the promise of opportunity for all Ohioans,” Sykes wrote.

This is article originally appeared in the Ohio Capital Journal and is reprinted here with permission.

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