State Representative Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) talked to the Olentangy Advocacy Committee Monday evening about a new formula he is proposing in the Ohio House for funding school districts.
“To me the most important thing is education,” Brenner said.
Brenner told the group that the only time funding of schools comes up is when it’s a budget year.
“Every time we have a discussion about school funding it’s during the budget process which we are just about to begin,” he said. “We have never had a long-run discussion of school funding outside of the budget process.”
Ohio’s budgets are done every two years.
Brenner said he wants to change the formula of how Ohio funds its schools. He said he had been talking with other states about how their schools are funded. He said took some ideas from Indiana.
“I’m not going to take the money from local governments. I think the money should be taken from the state level and redistributed back out,” he said. “I’m taking the exact same amount of money that we’re currently spending, but just changing the way the formula is funding it and how the funds flow back into the district.”
Brenner said under the current formula school districts pass local levies, but then the amount of funds returned to the district from the state is capped. Districts only get a fraction of their total money back with extra tax revenue being redistributed to other districts.
“This is why I’ve got a problem with the way the current school funding system is set up,” he said. “Now if you had the money follow the student on an equal basis back to a local district you wouldn’t have to worry about passing a local levy because the money would be there.”
Brenner said under his proposal school districts would be funded through a flat property tax.
“My proposal, in order to keep it the same, is 38.6 mills for all school districts,” Brenner said. “Every school district would be taxed at the exact same rate regardless of where the district is in the State of Ohio.”
Brenner said based on his initial analysis, Olentangy would see a tax cut of $30 million a year, or 18.5 percent reduction, in property taxes but the district would receive an increase in funding of about $25 million. He said his formula would benefit Olentangy and Delaware City. Buckeye Valley would stay about neutral while Big Walnut Schools might see a decrease in funding.
“This only is going to work if the voters buy into it,” Brenner said. “To get everyone on board to do this, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.