Rep. Brenner needs to address school funding

With school starting, school enrollment and funding issues in Delaware County aren’t far behind.

As Delaware City Superintendent Paul Craft noted in a Gazette article a week or so ago, the state funding formula would normally allocate additional money to districts that experience enrollment growth, so the 200 additional students the district expects this year should have resulted in significant additional state funding.

But illogically and arbitrarily, the funding law caps the money that some districts receive, regardless of the growth in student numbers and the costs associated with them. Delaware City School District has been “shorted” more than $7 million in needed funds in each of the last six years. Olentangy Local School District has had it even worse: about $34 million in lost funds each year.

So in spite of recognizing the need to help growing districts (which can’t limit their enrollment), the General Assembly says to some districts: Sorry, we’ve decided we’re not going to apply our own funding formula in your case. We don’t want to give you that much money. Get it from your own local taxpayers.

Delaware City and Olentangy got that harsh message.

Our state representative, Andrew Brenner, represents one of the most strongly Republican counties in Ohio, and since he is now is chair of the House Education Committee, he apparently is respected by his Republican caucus and should have some influence. But he appears to have chosen to use that influence to help the state’s charter schools, which take away public school money and have become a national laughingstock after a skewering by John Oliver on his TV program.

This campaign season, voters should demand that Rep. Brenner turn his influence away from the state’s charter schools and, instead, produce a specific and detailed plan for how he will bring an end to this “cap” on student growth funding – the costly blow to the students, parents and taxpayers of Delaware County.

-Marianne Gabel