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How Ohio Funds K-12 Schools

Background

Ohio’s constitution dictates that its schools must be adequately and equitably funded. But the state has spent the better part of the last 20 years arguing about what that means.

Article 6 of the Ohio Constitution reads in part:

The General Assembly shall make such provisions, by taxation, or otherwise, as, with the income arising from the school trust fund, will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state…

Today, the way school funding is set up, public schools get some money from the state, some from the federal government, and the rest from local tax dollars.

That means schools must turn to voters in their districts to approve most of their local taxes. Usually, those are property-tax levies, though sometimes they’re income taxes. And for construction, districts put bond issues on the ballot.

This setup is supposed to ensure schools are fully funded, but the Ohio Supreme Court has said three times that the system is unconstitutional. And one other time, it gave the system only a conditional endorsement.

The state high court first ruled that Ohio’s school funding model is unconstitutional in 1997 in DeRolph v. State. The court ruled that Ohio’s reliance on local tax dollars leaves too much to the chance of where someone is born and raised. Property-rich districts could provide an education that property-poor districts could not afford. The court said the inequality plays out worst in urban and rural schools.

Since then, Ohio has repeatedly tried to adjust its school-funding model. Gov. Ted Strickland introduced a school funding formula called the Ohio Evidence-Based Model in 2009. That model was never implemented. Gov. John Kasich introduced his Achievement Everywhere plan in early 2013. That plan is currently working its way through the legislative process, with both the Ohio House and Senate proposing alternative school funding plans.

Latest Posts

Ohio Senate School Funding Plan Would Increase Funding Over Ohio House Plan

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Kristy Johnson / Flickr The school funding plan proposed by state Senate Republicans today would increase the total amount of state money going to K-12 schools over the amount proposed by the Ohio House, Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports: Republican State Senator Chris Widener says the basic amount the state spends per pupil in [...]

“Better Than Normal” Results for School Levies

About 90 percent of the requests for renewal levies were approved in yesterday’s elections, as well 42 percent of requests for new money. “For a primary election, results were a little better than normal,” says Damon Asbury, who follows levies for the Ohio School Boards Association. He says usually about 30 percent of new levy requests [...]

May 7 Ohio School Levy Results

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Kim Keegan / Flickr Ohio voters approved most school district requests to renew existing tax levies in Tuesday’s special election. But the majority of requests to impose new taxes appeared headed for failure, according to the unofficial election results available Tuesday evening. Those results are similar to the pattern in past elections. There were nearly 140 school [...]

Your Guide to Voting on May 7 Ohio School Levies

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There are 138 school tax issues on the ballot for the May 7 special election. (There are also other tax issues and local office elections on the May 7 ballot.) About three-quarters of districts on the ballot are asking voters to approve property tax levies. Others are asking voters to approve income taxes, taxes to [...]

How the House’s School Funding Plan is Different, and What People are Saying About It

Yesterday, Ohio House Republicans dealt several blows to Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal, including some significant changes to his school funding plan. The biggest difference between Kasich’s proposal and the House’s is how school districts’ base levels are calculated. Kasich’s plan aimed to equalize funding between poor and rich districts by basing school funding on local property [...]

Ohio Lawmakers to Spend Spring Break Dyeing Easter Eggs, Fixing School Funding

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Carolyn / Flickr Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports that state lawmakers are spending this week working through changes to a new school funding plan behind closed doors: House Speaker Bill Batchelder, who leads a super-majority caucus of 60 Republicans, says he plans to spend a lot of spring break looking into the formula, which he [...]

Rural Schools Hope to Tap into Oil and Gas Drilling Boom

Carroll County in east central Ohio is at the center of the oil and gas drilling boom, and the local school district wants to tap into that boom – literally. After all, rural schools are no longer as poor as they once were because of the discovery of oil and gas in the state, and often [...]

What the Sequester Likely Means for Ohio Schools

Remember the sequester, the fiscal cliff, the federal pit of funding doom? It was all over the headlines at the end of last year, before lawmakers came to a last-minute deal putting off the impending cuts by a couple more months. Basically, the sequester is a set of across the board cuts in federal funding, [...]

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