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Ohio School Funding Overhaul Gets Mixed Grades

photo of elementary school classroom
Elementary school classroom

Ohio lawmakers will soon consider a school funding formula overhaul, which has undergone some changes since it was first introduced in March. But the state’s leading school funding expert says he’s giving the plan mixed grades, and that it needs more work.

Researcher Howard Fleeter saysthe overall base cost for educating students was increased and the aid to economically disadvantaged students was also boosted. But when all the math is done, Fleeter says the funding gap between students in the richest and poorest districts is only $23 smaller than it is under the current formula – and the wealthiest districts are still getting more resources than the poorest districts.

“You’ve done all these good things in this plan, and yet, when the dust clears on it, it hasn’t closed that equity gap by very much at all.”

And Fleeter says a lot of money will be needed to bridge that gap. An early cost estimate on the plan from Reps. Bob Cupp and John Patterson is $1.5 billion a year more than the state is already spending on education.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.