School-funding advocates seek to inform the public

By Denise Dick


Organizers of a meeting last month regarding public-school funding are planning to establish subcommittees this summer aimed at informing the public.

Hundreds of people filled the Boardman Performing Arts Center last month for the forum that included local, state and national speakers about the issue.

“We want to form subcommittees out of people who did respond,” said Ron Iarussi, superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. “Examples are [committees] to lobby or try to contact legislators and lawmakers, people to host other meetings in other areas, starting a social-media subcommittees post regularly, start a Twitter account, use social media to try to get the message across, letters to the editor — those type of things.”

Speakers at the forum discussed how public money, either through vouchers or charter schools, funds private education.

Iarussi said public-school officials aren’t opposed to private schools, and they aren’t opposed to choice.

It’s a question of “how do we make our public schools schools of choice?” he said.

William Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, said similar forums will be conducted in other parts of the state starting in the fall.

“The general idea is we just want to inform people as to what’s happening to the public system,” Phillis said.

There’s a big difference, he said, between what most school districts get from the state per pupil and what they pay to charter schools for a student who attends there.

In Boardman, for example, the school district receives about $1,137 per pupil from the state but sends $7,674 per student to charter schools those students attend, according to Phillis.

“And Boardman is an excellent school system,” he said.

Phillis cited the school’s state report-card designation as well as other offerings at the school district.

“When a student leaves that kind of school system to go to a failing charter school, it’s something people should be concerned about,” he said.

Most public school districts in Ohio are paying out a lot more than they’re receiving from the state, Phillis said.

“Local tax money is subsidizing a program that the local board has no control over whatsoever,” he said. “Local tax levies are passed with specific provisions that the money be used for district schools. People really ought to really pay attention to that. People just aren’t informed about it.”

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