Bill would transform broken school funding formula that has plagued Ohio for decades

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COLUMBUS — The Ohio House today passed the latest version of the Fair School Funding Plan, House Bill (HB) 305, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) that would transform the way Ohio’s schools are funded. Supporters say the plan would address many of the issues that have plagued the state’s funding formula, which the Ohio Supreme Court has found unconstitutional four times, beginning with the DeRolph decision in 1997.

“After 23 years, we finally have a real, comprehensive, and most importantly, constitutional, plan to fairly fund our schools and invest in our children’s future,” said Rep. Patterson, a former schoolteacher, fair funding advocate and one of the bill’s joint sponsors. “So many hands have played a part in this bill, and to see it moving forward is a real win—but we can’t slow the momentum. I urge my Senate colleagues to take up this bill and pass — finally — a plan that benefits all of our students, districts and the taxpayers.”

The Fair School Funding Plan would more accurately determine the base cost of educating a typical Ohio student before added supports such as Gifted Education, Special Education, and transportation, among others. Ohio’s current formula lacks this input, which was a major factor in the DeRolph decision to rule the formula unconstitutional.

The bill would also address another key DeRolph finding: the current overreliance on property wealth in determining a district’s ability to fund its local share. The Fair School Funding Plan blends property and income wealth to determine a more precise, predictable basis for the local share.

“Our current school funding formula has been broken for a long time. The Cupp-Patterson school funding formula is long overdue and will drastically improve the education of our youth for years to come. Although I recently became joint-sponsor at the request of the Speaker, it has been an honor to work with Rep. Patterson and the educators in our state to see this bill’s passage on the Ohio House floor,” said Rep. Scherer.

HB 305 passed by a vote of 84-8 and will now be referred to the Senate for their consideration.

Watch Patterson’s floor speech.

Bipartisan fair school funding plan clears Ohio House