Akron Public Schools Among Winners in New Ohio Schools Funding Plan

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It’s not often that Ryan Pendleton’s legislative update at Akron Public School Board meetings receives applause and cheers.

But on Monday night, the school district’s chief financial officer told the board that just an hour before, the revamped school funding formula he had worked on with state lawmakers for the past three years had vanished from the public eye. conference committee and would be part of the state’s biennial budget.

A massive overhaul of the way Ohio finances its schools was anything but official.

The chairman of the board, NJ Akbar, called him a “monumental” and “game changer”.

Funding for Ohio schools has long been ruled unconstitutional, from the overall amount spent on education to how one school district can receive money rather than another. Akron schools, led by Pendleton, have long fought to change this.

Akron is expected to earn around $ 8 million over the next two years from the new formula.

But the real win isn’t about that extra $ 8 million, Pendleton said.

The state will now have a school funding mechanism – one that parents and taxpayers can understand – that makes sense, takes into account the needs of each district, and is predictable in real time.

“We know it’s based on the kids,” Pendleton said.

It will also reduce the burden on local taxpayers, by extending the time between school district levy requests. he said.

The formula is based on three parts: a base cost, a national and local part, and categories of students in need.

A base cost is what it takes to educate a student in that district, with more weight given to districts with a higher number of younger students, as lower teacher-to-student ratios in these classes make them more expensive.

The formula then takes into account the real wealth of this community and its ability to contribute, depending on income and land wealth. A richer neighborhood would be responsible for a higher share of the costs.

The last factor is the number of students who have increased needs because they are, for example, economically disadvantaged or learning English. Districts with a larger population of these students will see increased assistance.

The Ohio House of Representatives Fair School Funding Plan called for a six-year phased-in of an additional $ 2 billion for education.

Because the budget is two years at a time, lawmakers chose to guarantee only the first two years of the six-year plan. This means, so far, only an additional $ 700 million in funding for education.

But Pendleton said it was acceptable and expected, and he doesn’t see the state backing down, given bipartisan support for the new formula.

“There is no sign that it will expire or will expire after two years,” he said.

In year six and beyond the plan, Akron is expected to receive an additional $ 33 million per year.

The district currently receives about $ 165 million in state funding, or about $ 3,800 per student.

For the next two years, Pendleton said, no district will lose state funding. When the formula is fully implemented, however, about 95 out of the state’s 609 districts would lose money. These may be districts that have lost enrollments but have not lost funding previously due to the guarantees built into the old formula.

“Over time, this formula must be allowed to work,” Pendleton said.

Ohio school districts are also receiving federal stimulus funding that will likely boost some budgets for the next several years.

Akron receives around $ 140 million in total stimulus funds, although the money is to be spent over the next three years.

The need for levies is not going away, Pendleton said, but between the stimulus funds and the newly adopted state funding formula, “we will increase our need for levies for a while.”

Contact education reporter Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.


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