Alternative to Governor’s Education Plan Introduced in Senate

Earlier this month spreadsheets were released that showed anticipated funding for each school district under Governor Kasich’s budget proposal. These revealed that a majority of districts will not experience any increase in funding. Questions have arisen regarding how the districts were chosen that will receive increases. Representatives of the Governor defended his plan in General Assembly hearings, and a group of senators introduced a competing school funding reform plan. It has been a busy month for school funding, and realistically the issue will likely remain in flux at least through the end of June and the adoption of a state budget.

The Governor and his staff caution that what appears to be “wealthy” districts receiving increases and “impoverished” districts being flat-funded is simply a reflection of rural property values increasing in recent years, while suburban values have decreased. Moreover, they point to guarantee funding as something that has artificially inflated funding in some impoverished districts that have lost student population. They argue that by effectively leveling up each district’s per pupil property valuation the Governor’s plan helps close the gaps between “rich” and “poor” districts. The Governor’s staff has testified that there was no intention in his plan to determine what is required for a quality education, or what a quality education would actually cost.

Critics of the Governor’s plan are concerned that most districts do not see increased funding, and some of those that receive increases are not the impoverished districts that initially were thought to benefit most from the plan. They further argue that the economy is turning around but the Governor’s plan fails to bring funding back up to the level maintained before Governor Kasich took office – this despite a sizeable budget surplus. They also point to a reduction in the state “foundation amount” to only $5,000. They argue that by reducing the foundation amount, and remarking that the guarantee is unsustainable, the Governor is opening the door to significant funding cuts in the future.

An alternative school funding plan – Senate Bill 15 – was introduced in the Senate on February 12. This plan is similar to the reforms endorsed several years ago by all of the major education organizations (e.g. OSBA, OASBO, BASA, OESCA, PTA, OEA, OFT, OAPSE). SB 15 requires the General Assembly to identify the components of a Constitutional education system and to cost them out. Every 6 years the components would be reevaluated, and in between the costs would be adjusted for inflation. Every district would be funded at the level required to provide these components. The local share, or charge off, for this funding level would be decreased over a span of several years. The major concepts of SB 15 would be placed before Ohio voters for approval in the November 2013 general election. No spreadsheets are available for SB 15 because it describes a concept for determining funding, but does not specify funding levels.

Because Governor Kasich’s proposal is part of the state budget it will be thoroughly considered by the General Assembly. In all likelihood the budget will not be finalized until late June. Nonetheless, many important votes will take place well in advance of June so school officials should provide input to their legislators sooner rather than later. SB 15, on the other hand, is unlikely to receive serious consideration unless legislators hear from their constituents that a different plan from the Governors must be considered.

ODE seeks input on proposed revisions to IDEA

In case you missed it, below is a notice from ODE seeking input on what it should propose for revisions to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This should not be confused with the ongoing meetings being hosted by State Support Teams seeking input on the state operating standards. The call below is regarding possible changes to the federal law, while the ongoing meetings are regarding state regulations that flesh out the existing federal law. Reauthorization by the current Congress seems unlikely, so this may be all for naught:

Public input opportunity for IDEA reauthorization open through March 14

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) invite your input and feedback in the development of a federal platform for the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The purpose of the platform is to provide Ohio-based recommendations for federal lawmakers and policy officials to consider when they begin to review and rewrite the federal law and regulations impacting educational opportunities and services for students with disabilities.

The federal IDEA law was last reauthorized in 2004 and, while unlikely, it may be reauthorized during the 130th Congressional session. To ensure Ohio’s issues and concerns are at the forefront of any federal legislative review, the SBE plans to develop and advocate on a set of recommendations for the reauthorization of IDEA in 2013.

We would appreciate your recommendations and suggestions of what should be covered in the next reauthorization. Feel free to be general or specific (detail sections) as well as provide any contact or organizational information in your responses. Please send recommendations and suggestions to by Thursday, March 14, 2013.