Local school districts believe the new state education funding plan that was part of the state budget signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday is a step in the right direction, but they also hope conversations around school funding continue.
The two-year, $75 billion budget that went into effect Thursday includes a new system for funding K-12 education that both Democrats and Republicans believe will create a fairer and more reliable long-term payment system, reports the Associated Press. The new calculation, called the Fair School Funding Plan, sets the base amount of money spent on each child on the total per pupil cost of an education — from the transportation budget needed to bring children to school — to the computers they’re issued to do homework on at the end of the day.
The AP reported the base amount is about $7,200 per child, up from $6,020 in the current law.
The new plan also eliminates the funding caps that officials from Delaware City Schools and Olentangy Local Schools say causes the districts to lose out on tens of millions of dollars each year. Additionally, the plan allows for direct state payments to charter schools instead of the money going to public schools, who in-turn pay charter schools per student.
Julie Wagner Feasel, president of the Olentangy School Board, said Thursday the original Fair School Funding Plan would have been phased-in over six years, and by the sixth year, Olentangy would be receiving $2,500 per pupil.
“Now, with the plan only guaranteed to be funded for two years, future funding is unknown,” Wagner Feasel said. “The spreadsheets released by the state estimate that Olentangy will be getting a little over $700 per pupil a year. So while that’s more than (the $580 per pupil) we are getting now, it’s not really a windfall for Olentangy when you consider private schools are receiving $1,379 per pupil, and the average district in the state receives around $4,000 per pupil.”
Wagner Feasel said the change to charter school funding will save Olentangy about $1.5 million a year, and the district may see a slight increase in transportation funding for students with special needs.
“I am hopeful that in two years the legislature will continue with the Fair School Funding Plan and continue to fund it appropriately,” Wagner Feasel said.
Officials from Delaware City Schools agreed the new plan is a positive and hope the state works to continue the Fair School Funding Plan.
“The Fair School Funding Bill is definitely a step in the right direction for districts like us who have been capped for many years,” said Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley. “Because the bill only addresses funding for two years, we will continue to work with our legislators to encourage them to build on this budget bill in the future. We are encouraged by the bipartisan support to evaluate the school funding issues and work toward a fair solution for all districts.”
Delaware Treasurer and CFO Melissa Swearingen said the district is still analyzing the funding plan, but it anticipates an increase in state revenue of approximately $896,941.
Swearingen said the change to charter schools will also have a positive effect on Delaware City Schools.
“Based on last year’s charter and community school enrollment, the district anticipates a small positive impact to our overall budget due to the state directly funding these students in this coming school year,” Swearingen said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.