CLEVELAND – Some local parents are keeping a close watch on the Ohio Fair Schools fundraising plan, which is being debated in the Ohio House and Senate in Columbus.
Joan Spoerl is a Cleveland Heights mom who worries about her 16-year-old son’s school future. Spoerl, who testified at the Statehouse about the plan, is concerned that the Senate version of the plan will not be enough to increase funding to help students and reduce the tax burden on homeowners.
âI want my kid to end up strong and not have to worry about it,â Spoerl said. “Are the children in my community going to be taken care of, are they going to have a rewarding first experience? The Senate version simply does not have a formula that examines what it costs to educate a child. This is not fair and will always keep us dependent on local levies Local Ohio taxpayers have borne the burden because the state has failed to fulfill its primary constitutional responsibility.
Karen Rego, president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, said the Senate and parliamentary versions of the plan will improve funding for her district and ease the voucher burden on district community schools.
But Rego also fears that the Senate plan will not do enough to create a real, lasting reform of school funding.
âThe Senate plan is only a two-year plan, so we could be back in a few years,â Rego said. âIf that doesn’t improve, I don’t know how long we can maintain the size of the staff that we have.
Howard Fleeter, an economist at the Ohio Education Policy Institute, said the Senate plan called for $ 6,110 per student per year, an increase of $ 90 from last year, while the House version of the plan estimated about $ 7,200 per student.
Fleeter said the Senate plan did not include a funding increase of what he called “categorical.”
âIt’s funding for students with disabilities, English learners, economically disadvantaged students, transportation,â Fleeter said. “The House’s approach to determining that amount per student, I think, is more comprehensive than the Senate’s approach.”
Wendy Patton, senior project manager at Policy Matters Ohio, agreed with Fleeter that the Senate plan used older property tax data to arrive at its per-student average.
âIt’s underfunded, it’s not stable. it’s not transparent, âPatton said. âIt’s not a problem of numbers, it’s a problem of political priorities.
The Ohio Senate and House will meet as a conference committee next week to work out a compromise on the equitable school funding plan, hoping to meet the June 30 deadline.
Meanwhile, the “All in for Ohio Kids” school group has created a calculator that allows Parents in Ohio must enter the name of their school district to determine how much additional funding their district would receive if the Fair School Fund Plan becomes law.