All In For Ohio Kids tell lawmakers to pass the Fair School Funding Plan
Posted June 09, 2021 in Press Releases
Today the All In For Ohio Kids coalition gathered in the Statehouse and called on lawmakers to give all Ohio children, no matter where they live or what they look like, the opportunity to follow their dreams and live up to their abilities. The coalition — made up of teachers, school administrators, policy experts, parents and faith leaders — is demanding legislators pass the Fair School Funding Plan in the 2022-23 state budget.
“As a math teacher, I know how important it is for my students to have the same access to technology, broadband and STEM education that students in wealthier districts have,” said Shauntina Thornton, middle school math and social studies teacher at Nathan Hale School in Cleveland. “Ohio legislators have failed to provide the resources our students need, not just in Cleveland but in urban, suburban and rural communities across the state. The Fair School Funding Plan will ensure that all Ohio students can attend a world class public school.”
The plan, which is included in the House’s budget bill, passed with the support of both Republicans and Democrats. It is the result of a rigorous three-year process that included input from the public, educators and policy experts. But leaders of the Ohio Senate chose to create their own plan behind closed doors. Their proposal abandons the opportunity to create a long-term school funding solution, opting instead for continued giveaways to corporations, failed charter schools and private school vouchers.
Mansfield Middle School teacher Zach Jones said Ohio’s current school funding system provides Mansfield just under $8,000 per student. If a student’s family chooses to send them to a private school via vouchers or a charter school, the state forces the district to send more than $10,000 per student out of the district. He said his district has had to cut eight staffers that could still be educating students under the Fair School Funding plan, which would increase the state’s support by 33%.
“Mansfield students are being forced to pay for a private education for other kids while they themselves go without,” Jones said. “Instead of lifting Mansfield’s students up, state lawmakers have taken away from them and then punished them further by withholding additional funds because of poor performance on state assessments.”
Residents of Allen County also travelled to the Statehouse to participate in the rally. Under the Fair School Funding Plan, the Lima school district would receive an increase in state funding of 7%. In fact, seven of the nine school districts in Allen County receive far better funding under the Fair Schools Funding Plan than the Senate plan. The Senate plan would send $7.4 million less to Allen County schools than the Fair School Funding Plan would. Organizer Taylor Pennington said her community is “desperate for change.”
“Education is the passport to the future,” she said. “How are we preparing our children for the future when our education system is stuck in the past? For over 20 years, children in poor communities have been failed by the school funding system.”
“We have Ohio legislators telling us we don’t have the money to take care of our most essential resources: our children,” Lima organizer and pastor Daniel Hughes said. “This is not a game, this is not politics, this is real life. These babies matter. So go get the job done and fund this formula.”
Under the current funding formula the rapidly growing Olentangy School District in Delaware County has its funding capped by the state, falling short of what students need. Under the Fair School Funding Plan the district would receive a 403% increase in state funding.
“The state is at a critical point in history for funding the education of our children,” said Olentangy Schools Treasurer and CFO Emily Hatfield. “We know the current ‘formula’ acts as a distribution of funds to schools rather than financial support for a student’s needs. What we need is a plan that adequately shares the state and local responsibility to fiscally support each unique child where he or she is being educated. The Fair School Funding Plan makes a tremendous effort to do just that.”
The Senate is expected to vote on a final budget shortly. The fate of the Fair School Funding Plan will likely be determined in the Conference Committee when leaders from the House and Senate reconcile differences between their bills.
“We need our lawmakers in the House to hold firm,” said Ohio Organizing Co-Executive Director Molly Shack. “Our lawmakers have some homework that is overdue and they need to get it done.