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Ohio's School Funding Overhaul Could Be More Expensive Than Estimated

The school funding formula that’s in the latest version of the two-year state budget now being considered by the Ohio Senate will likely cost more than expected. The formula passed by the House last month seeks to calculate state aid based on 60% property values and 40% income in each school district.

Senate Education Committee chair Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) said the House version of the school funding overhaul would need an extra $1.8 billion to fully fund it over the six-year phase in.

But he said the House used teacher and school employee salary data from 2018.

“We updated a couple of weeks ago, and the salary data is now from 2020, but that added another $454 million short," Brenner said. "So we’re closer to about $2.2, $2.3 billion short over the six-year period.”

The House budget puts some money toward the overhaul, but leaves most of the extra funding to future legislators to allocate.

It also absorbs more than a billion dollars that Gov. Mike DeWine had set aside for separate tutoring, mental health and other wellness programs for low-income students.

That's something that's bothered Senate Finance Committee Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) as well.

Several groups have come out in favor of the school funding overhaul, noting the almost universal agreement that the current formula doesn't work.

The overhaul in the House budget comes from House Bill 1, which was a reintroduction of the Cupp-Patterson plan, named for then-Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima, now the House Speaker) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson), who was term limited and didn't run for re-election. That plan passed overwhelmingly by the House last year. But Dolan said then there wasn't enough time to fully consider the plan.

The Senate's version of the budget is expected to be introduced in early June.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau