It's time for Ohio to fully fund public schools
In his budget proposal, Gov. DeWine has asked our legislators to fully fund the second phase of the Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP) for Ohio’s public schools. The General Assembly took a giant step forward for Ohio’s students and schools by enacting the Fair School Funding Plan in the last biennial budget. It is crucial that the next biennial budget include the second of the plan’s three phases.
The FSFP bases state school funding on what a student needs to succeed. The plan was developed collaboratively by a team of educational leaders. Its formula treats all Ohio school districts and taxpayers fairly, based upon their capacity to raise local funds. The implementation of this formula represents a move toward the equitable and adequate funding of Ohio’s schools, which our state constitution requires, and which our state supreme court has ordered four times.
Now is the time for the state to fully fund K–12 education. Ohio is in excellent financial shape with actual tax revenues for the 2022 fiscal year (FY) $2.7 billion over original estimates. The Office of Budget and Management projects tax revenue for FY 2023 will be $1.65 billion (6.3%) above the estimates. Additionally, the legislature previously maxed out the rainy-day fund at $2.7 billion, none of which was used during the pandemic. The state’s average $400 million annual contribution to this fund should instead be invested to fully fund the FSFP for Ohio’s children—our future leaders.
According to the research and calculations that went into the FSFP, it costs approximately $7,800 to educate each student in Ohio. But the CH-UH City School District currently receives only about $1,900 per student. Guess where the difference comes from? Local property taxes.
Under the FSFP, the local and state shares of a school district’s budget are determined by a stable, fair capacity calculation based 60% on local property valuation per pupil and 40% on local income. Currently about 75% of CH-UH’s revenue comes from local property taxes and about 19% from the state. If FSFP is fully implemented, about 71% of our revenue would come from property taxes and about 23% from the state. A fully implemented FSFP would provide the CH-UH school district an additional $4.7 million.
Every dollar invested in our local schools impacts our local economy and our future workforce. Once fully implemented, the Fair School Funding Plan will bring predictability and stability to Ohio schools, allowing districts to prepare all students for success.
Fully funding the formula makes sense. Ohio has the money to implement the well-crafted, bipartisan plan. It is often said that what we value, we are willing to fund. Our legislators need to hear from all of us about the importance and urgency of investing in Ohio’s children and fully funding the formula.
Please contact Sen. Kent Smith (email@example.com) and Rep. Juanita Brent (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your support for the full implementation of the Fair School Funding Plan and the importance of investing in Ohio’s future; and send copies to Rep. Jay Edwards (email@example.com) and Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Malia Lewis is a member of the CH-UH City School District Board of Education.