Needs improvement: State support for public education still falls short
Posted June 07, 2019 in Press Releases
Both Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio House of Representatives put forward budgets that would increase wraparound supports for Ohio’s K-12 schools – especially those in high-poverty communities. Neither proposal, however, fixes the longstanding flaws in Ohio’s school funding formula that favor the most advantaged districts over those that serve struggling communities, according to a new Budget Bite from Policy Matters Ohio.
The House budget makes a $675 million investment in wraparound services for school districts through Governor DeWine’s Student Wellness and Success initiative – an increase of $125 million over the governor’s proposal. The initiative would provide all school districts with funding for mental health services, services for homeless youth, mentoring programs, family engagement and support services and more. Using a sliding scale, the plan prioritizes districts that serve higher percentages of students living in poverty.
“All Ohio children will benefit from having these wraparound supports at their schools,” said report author, Policy Matters Researcher Victoria Jackson. “Children affected by violence in their community or a family member struggling with addiction especially need this extra help. Ohio children face high rates of poverty and one of the worst opioid epidemics in the nation. Counseling and mentoring can help them come to school prepared and ready to learn.”
Even with the new wraparound program, Ohio’s public schools are inadequately and inequitably funded. The House budget increased state support for classroom instruction and other core functions of schools by just 1.69% between 2018 and 2021. Considering inflation, schools actually lose money. The Cupp-Patterson plan to reform Ohio’s school funding formula would have invested an additional $720 million in state foundation funding for classroom instruction. However, analysis showed the plan would still favor wealthier districts, so the House didn’t incorporate it into their budget. Currently, policymakers and advocates are working to improve the Fair School Funding Plan to make it more equitable. They are considering using funding for the Student Wellness and Success initiative to fund the new school funding formula.
“Ohio’s public school students need at least as much as recommended in the Cupp-Patterson plan, but the funding should most benefit the districts that serve the students who face poverty, trauma and violence,” Jackson said. “Ohio will do better when all our children can get a great education – no matter where they live.”