In a blog post on Huffington Post, an Ohio high schooler spells out what she’s sees as the problems with the way the state funds its schools: inequality and instability.
Mica Caine, a junior at Pickerington High School, cites the well known Ohio Supreme Court Case, DeRolph v. State of Ohio, from 1991 that found Ohio’s school funding model is unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local tax dollars to fund schools.
Caine writes this problem hasn’t been resolved, and continues to plague Ohio’s schools.
The reliance on the community creates a wealth disparity, where districts in less affluent areas receive less funding per child than wealthier districts that collect more in property taxes. It is not fair that a student in a wealthy suburb is “worth” more than a child in a struggling in an Appalachian [sic] school district. It is the State’s responsibility to fill that void, and promote equality in educational opportunity.
Caine also brings up the recent economic crisis that has lowered home prices around the state, leading to lower tax values and therefore decreased revenues for schools.
Ohio’s funding system also lacks stability. America has witnessed the scary real-estate market bubble burst. And although in a minor upswing now, property values drastically dropped. Therefore, the amount of money in property taxes collected by districts decreased. Good market or bad market, a child’s education should not be at its mercy.
Caine isn’t the only one to complain about the state’s school funding model. Public school administrators often say the heavy reliance on local tax dollars leads to inequalities between wealthy suburban districts and their poorer urban and rural neighbors.
But not everyone agrees the problems raised in the DeRolph case persist some 22 years later.
“We’ll never know whether we’re in compliance with the Supreme Court decision until somebody challenges the system and takes it up to the Supreme Court again” says House member Gerald Stebelton, R- Lancaster. “But we’ve done an awfully lot in school funding over the last 20 years since the DeRolph case started.”
Stebelton specifically points to an effort to fund the construction of new school building around the state.
Still, Governor John Kasich has been dropping not-so-subtle hints about a new school funding formula he’s expected to release this Spring. It remains to be seen whether that satisfies the concerns of the critics of the school levy system.