Delaware City Schools Superintendent Paul Craft is encouraging Delaware residents to reach out to their legislators and back a proposed school funding plan that would eliminate gain caps, which he said has robbed the district of millions of dollars.
The Fair School Funding Plan is a proposal authored by state Representatives Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) that is currently being discussed at the Ohio Statehouse.
“Ohio has long needed a rational, transparent, comprehensive and – most of all – fair system for funding its schools,” writes Cupp and Patterson in their executive summary of the plan. “Unfortunately, Ohio’s current school funding formula is not working. In fact, four out of five districts (82%) are now funded off the formula with a cap limiting funding or a guarantee underpinning it. This is because our school funding formula and system is not based on the actual resource needs of our students, schools and communities. To meet the challenges ahead, to continue progress, Ohio needs to change school funding now.”
Craft said the proposed plan would eliminate the gain caps that have kept growing districts like Delaware City Schools and Olentangy Local Schools from being given the funding-per-pupil that the state budget states they should get. At a DCS Board of Education meeting in January, Craft said the district has about 6,000 students, but it only receives funding for about 4,000 because the district grew rapidly after the gain caps were put in place. Craft has previously estimated the caps have cost the district $6.9 million in state funding.
“For the last year, year-and-a-half, (Cupp and Patterson) have been working with a group of mainly educators to come up with a new school funding plan, and they’ve actually pulled together something interesting,” Craft said Tuesday. “It doesn’t change the overall numbers for us all that much, but what they have done is incorporated getting rid of gain caps… They don’t get rid of them completely in the first two years, but they do make great strides and more strides that anybody has in the last eight years. It would really be a huge difference for us and a huge difference for Olentangy.”
Craft reiterated that 82% of districts are currently not funded based on the formula, and the proposed plan would be able to fund 85% on the formula.
“I don’t know if (the plan) is perfect, but what it does do is get 85% of districts onto the formula,” Craft said. “There will still be a set of districts that are guaranteed but not nearly as many, and there will be a few districts that are not all the way caught up, but for the 85% of districts, it actually does.”
Craft said the plan would also allow legislators to tweak the budget in the future to address areas of concern.
“There’s still work to be done but until you get the formula in place, you can’t make the tweaks that you have because of the caps and guarantees,” Craft said. “It’s actually logical.”
Craft wrote a blog post urging Delaware residents to contact their state legislators and urged them to support the plan.
“It’s such a huge step in the right direction,” he said. “We are encouraging our stakeholders to reach out to (legislators) and say, ‘Guys, this makes sense for us.’ We want them to know for our constituents, for our stakeholders, for our taxpayers, and for our students what Cupp and Patterson have done makes sense and we expect you to support this. This is the right time and the right plan for the taxpayers and students of Delaware City.”
Craft added the gain caps have a direct relationship to tax levies in Delaware.
“(The plan would allow) us to have some more resources for our students and to have some more capacity to stay off the ballot a little longer,” Craft said. “That whole last levy was about this. Getting us fully funded would really mean pushing the next new levy out for several years. This plan doesn’t get us all the way there in two years, but it’s a huge step… This is as good a chance as we’ve had for the last decade.”
Craft’s blog post, along with contact information about state Sen. Andrew Brenner and state Rep. Kris Jordan can be found at https://www.dcs.k12.oh.us/page/90.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.