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Opinion

Fixing Ohio’s school funding formula

4/19/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Anthony DeVitis

Guest Editorial

Without a doubt, public education is one of the most important services provided by our state government. There is no better investment than the investment we make in our children’s future with successful schools. Unfortunately, Ohio has long had problems with our school funding formula. In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the formula was unconstitutional, but very little has been done to fix this troubling issue. However, the Ohio House plans to reverse this trend of inaction in 2012.

Our current economic climate has made the search for a constitutional school funding formula all the more pressing. When families and communities are looking for any way to cut back on spending, it is less likely for school levies to pass. This serves to further imperil the quality of education in districts across Ohio. In addition, our state depends largely on property taxes to provide funding for our schools. This, in turn, creates disparities in funding between poorer and wealthier districts that must be resolved.

To properly deal with these issues, it is necessary for the state legislature to have a comprehensive picture of the current school funding situation. To this end, a bipartisan process has been designed to gather testimony from the people who know our education system best, including school administrators, teachers and parents. Finding an answer to this enduring problem should not be rushed or we risk implementing a half-baked solution. By holding public hearings throughout the state, we will ensure that the General Assembly has the information it needs to craft a fix that sticks.

However, in working to find a solution, we must not lose sight of the fact that money cannot solve all problems. High student achievement is not based solely on dollar signs, and we must always keep this in mind as we make changes to Ohio’s school funding formula. It is important to recognize districts with positive outcomes and hold schools accountable for less than satisfactory performances.

In the end, we all are working toward the same objective: providing a brighter future to Ohio’s youth. Fifteen years after the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling on our school funding formula, it is high time to address the funding obstacles that plague our public education system. All children deserve a chance to reach their full potential, and strong schools are the key to their success.

State Rep. DeVitis (R-District 43) may be reached by calling 614-466-1790; writing to: 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215; or emailing District43@ohr.state.oh.us.

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