It’s been 13 years since the Ohio Supreme Court deemed the way Ohio funds public schools as unconstitutional and people are still waiting for the state to come up with a solution. In 2009, Ohioans hoped they had a solution when the evidence based funding model was revealed. However, there is concern the model isn't working. Proponents argue a tough economy has prevented the plan from realizing its full potential while opponents remain skeptical.
Recently, the election of a new Republican governor and the upcoming release of a report examining the evidence based model has put the debate back in the news according to a report on NBC 4 news.
Ohio State Constitution requires the state government to fund public education efficiently. It was interpreted that the law was meant to prevent school districts from becoming “starved for funds” or “lack[ing] teachers, buildings or equipment.” In 1991, a lawsuit was filed - DeRolph v. State – protesting the inadequacy of Ohio’s funding system.
Ohio’s public education funding system depends largely on property taxes. Schools and districts in less affluent areas receive less money to spend per child than other, wealthier districts that collect more in property taxes.
Less money spent on each child impacts the quality of education and creates a wealth disparity in the education system. Schools cannot attract quality teachers or create and expand programs like advance placement classes when they have inadequate funding.
In 1997 the Ohio Supreme Court declared the funding system unconstitutional and ordered the state to make changes. This was the first of four rulings citing the unconstitutionality of the funding system despite attempts to change it.
Ohio School Funding Now
The Ohio School Funding Advisory Council will release its first report on the evidence-based model on December 1, 2010.
The future of the evidence model and school funding on a whole is unknown because the incoming administration has not indicated its plans for solving the issue or whether they will leave the current model in effect.
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Where It Stands Now
School funding reform is in a holding pattern with the outcomes of the current fixes unknown and the intentions of the new administration open for speculation.
The recent case of an Akron, Ohio woman sentenced to two felony counts for sending her two daughters to a different school district has made international news, shining a light on Ohio's funding issue.