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Ohio House OKs school funding plan; unclear if Senate will

The Ohio House approved a bipartisan proposal to overhaul the state’s unconstitutional school funding system today, though it’s uncertain whether the plan will get a vote this month in the Republican-led Senate.

During testimony before the Ohio House Fair School hearing on Wednesday, Boardman Local Schools Treasurer Terry Armstrong said the new legislation would replace a system that has 82 percent of Ohio schools being funded outside of the current formula through a patchwork of guarantees and funding caps.

As the former superintendent of Lordstown schools, Armstrong said that district lost more than 50 percent of its funding annually due to a cap. It also lost millions as locally generated tangible personal property taxes are being phased out.

“The current foundation funding is based on a formula that results in Boardman Schools having their funding cut by over $3 million per year due to it being capped,” Armstrong said during his testimony. “Many school districts, like Boardman, are at a disadvantage under the current funding system due to its over-reliance on property valuations.”

When comparing the 10 school districts most similar to Boardman, the average per pupil funding to that group was $3,151 per student, while Boardman receives only $2,354.81. Funding for those other school districts ranged from $2,280.51 to $4,977.60 per student, Armstrong said.

“Fair School Funding Plan results in Boardman schools getting $3,151 per student based on current data, which is much closer to the average similar districts get per student of $3,400 per student,” Armstrong said.

Some lawmakers question the accuracy and feasibility of the eventual price tag — an estimated $2 billion annually.

Read more in Friday’s Vindicator.

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