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  School Funding Bill Labeled A Blueprint For The Future  
  November 26, 2020 Edition  
     BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
      associate editor
      A measure currently under consideration in the Ohio Legislature could boost funding and reduce reliance on property taxes for the Boardman Local School District, as well as public school districts across the state of Ohio.
      Ohio Representative John Patterson spoke about the status of the ‘School Fair Funding Movement’ during a forum held last week at the Boardman Performing Arts Center.
      Patterson and Rep. Bob Cupp say they have been studying Ohio’s unconstitutional formula for funding public schools for three years and have proposed House Bill 305 that would create a new financing system.
      “This is a blueprint for the future,” Patterson said at last week’s forum, adding if HB 305 as well as companion legislation in the Ohio Senate is approved “We will move from a formula that is totally broken to one that is predictable.”
      Boardman Local School Supt. Tim Saxton told The Boardman News the Cupp-Patterson proposal, when fully implemented, could add upwards of $4 million into the local district.
      The measure would allow Boardman schools to recoup about $1 million that is funneled to other districts under open enrollment, as well as return upwards of $3.2 million that is lost because state funding is currently ‘capped’ and cannot be increased.
      Rep. Patterson said the current funding formula for public schools is too dependant on property taxes.
      Under the Cupp-Patterson proposal, there would be a ‘blend’ of property taxes and income wealth that would be used to determine a district’s overall wealth.
      Supt. Saxton said “as a capped district, Boardman Local Schools lose about $3 million. We are property rich and income average, and the current formula is not working.”
      William L. Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy, says the Cupp-Patterson plan, “in principle, is straightforward and elementary. It identifies the components of a quality education, applies a cost to the components and distributes funding in a way that allows school districts, in combination of state and local funds, to provide quality educational opportunities to students.”
      Phillis says the Cupp-Patterson bill is beneficial to school districts in a variety of ways such as:
       •Charters and vouchers would be funded directly from the state.
       •The funding levels are premised on the costs of the components of a quality education instead of a politically-established number related to what is left over in the state budget after other budget items are funded.
       •Districts will have sufficient funds to offer quality educational opportunities.
       •Reliance on property tax will be reduced.
      If approved, the Cupp-Patterson plan could take upwards of seven years to be fully implemented.
      “The future of Ohio is at stake,” Patterson said at last week’s forum suggesting if approved, the measure would put school districts “on a predictable [tax] levy cycle.”
      Some 66 state representatives have signed-on as co-sponsors of the Cupp-Patterson bill.
      Also giving support to HB 305 is the League of Women Voters (LWV).
      “Students, school districts, and taxpayers all deserve a workable and fair system. Sub. HB 305 is comprehensive and a meaningful blueprint for the investment of public funds. How well it succeeds will depend on the investment the legislature makes during the budget process.
      According to the LWV, here are the merits of passing this bill now:
       •Public school funding is in tatters and school districts are financially vulnerable.
       •Sub. HB 305 is ready for adoption. It was developed over three years through a model process of thorough, informed, and transparent policy making led by education practitioners.
       •Sub. HB 305 is fair. It is driven by a commitment to an inspired vision of what public schools can accomplish, and it is based on the actual cost of providing for a quality education.
       •Sub. HB 305 makes the distribution of state funds more equitable by using a more precise measure of local capacity to pay for public schools.
       •Sub. HB 305 ends funding vouchers, charter schools, and inter-district transfers by deducting those dollars from state aid owed to districts. This ‘deduction funding’ drains resources out of local districts, creates greater funding inequality, fuels greater reliance on local funds, and reduces education opportunities for students, particularly in districts with concentrated poverty.
       •Failure to act would mean chaos going forward.
       •There is no “plan B” or prospect of a solution that could meet the quality of this proposal.
 
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