COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — State lawmakers are putting the final touches on their $95 billion budget proposal before it heads to the Ohio Senate.
Part of the emphasis in the budget is education and how schools are funded across the state. Public school funding was ruled unconstitutional in the state more than 20 years ago.
“I am ashamed, disheartened, disappointed to watch students with the same work ethic as me, the same focus, the same dreams, be denied of their future that they deserve because of where they live,” Dublin Coffman High School student Emma Webb said.
Public schools are funded based on property taxes under current Ohio law — meaning schools in more affluent parts of town are often better-funded, leaving students in lower-income neighborhoods at under-served schools with fewer resources.
“They can’t go to the bathroom because the ceilings collapse and there are rats in the walls. They miss school because the power is out,” Bexley High School senior Caroline Kuiken said. “I wish I was exaggerating.”
But the Fair School Funding Plan, within the budget, would consider the cost to educate a student and distribute funding based on that need. Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), who chairs the the Ohio House Finance Committee, said the plan is on its way to becoming a reality.
“If we didn’t do the inputs, we would have gone right back to the patchwork of school funding we’ve had for years,” Edwards said.
Edwards said during the prior Ohio General Assembly session, the plan was to phase it in over six years — now, they want to do it in four.
“We have to get this fully phased in and see if it actually brings Ohio into the future of education,” Edwards said. “Even the folks that were advocating for school choice here today, they’ve advocated for the Fair School Funding Plan.”
The budget will likely have a House floor vote next week before moving to the Senate Finance Committee.