The House Finance Committee Wednesday passed the latest version of the Fair School Funding Plan, House Bill (HB) 305, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) that would transform the way Ohio’s schools are funded. Supporters say the plan would address many of the issues that have plagued the state’s funding formula, which the Ohio Supreme Court has found unconstitutional four times, beginning with the DeRolph decision in 1997.
"We are nearing the end of a long journey, and now, after 23 years, we finally have a real, comprehensive, and most importantly, constitutional, plan to fairly fund our schools and invest in Ohio’s future," said Rep. Patterson, a former schoolteacher, fair funding advocate and one of the bill’s joint sponsors. “So many hands have played a part in this bill, and to see it moving forward is a real win for Ohio students, Ohio school districts, and Ohio taxpayers.”
The Fair School Funding Plan would more accurately determine the base cost of educating a typical Ohio student before added supports such as Gifted Education, Special Education, and transportation, among others. Ohio’s current formula lacks this input, which was a major factor in the DeRolph decision to rule the formula unconstitutional.
The bill would also address another key DeRolph finding: the current overreliance on property wealth in determining a district’s ability to fund its local share. The Fair School Funding Plan blends property and income wealth to determine a more precise, predictable basis for the local share.
“Our current school funding formula has been broken for a long time. The Cupp-Patterson school funding formula is long overdue and will drastically improve the education of our youth for years to come. Although I recently became joint-sponsor at the request of the Speaker, it has been an honor to see this bill in its final stages and I am hopeful to see its passage on the House floor this week,” said Rep. Scherer.
Supporting the bill's passage are a number of different groups such as the Ohio League of Women Voters, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio School Board Association, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Catholic Conference, and the Ohio Education Association.
After clearing the House Finance Committee, the bill moves to the House floor, where it will be eligible for a full House vote.