Published Thu, Jan 31, 2013 5:12 pm Dateline
Updated Thu, Jan 31, 2013 8:50 pm
Gov. John Kasich and state education leaders fielded online questions Thursday evening about the state's newly unveiled school funding formula at a town hall meeting in Columbus.
Kasich revealed his new education plan Thursday afternoon, which largely aims to equalize funding for districts of economic difference across the state.
He encouraged the public to submit questions about the plan on his Facebook page and via Twitter, and selected at least four of those questions to address with a panel of five educators from around the state at the online town hall meeting.
Panelists included Tina Thomas-Manning, associate superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education; David James, superintendent for Akron City Schools; Terry Ryan, vice president for Ohio programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute; Chris Lester, superintendent of Hamilton Township Local Schools and Hannah Powell, executive director of KIP Central.
Kasich began the meeting by discussing his rationale behind the fully-funded proposal.
"Our whole basis here is that a child, no matter where they live, no matter what the wealth of the district, has the right to compete with a child in another district regardless of wealth," he said. "We did this on the basis of what's best for the boys and the girls in the state of Ohio."
His funding plan, called "Achievement Everywhere," seeks to aid every school district that levies 20 mills in property taxes so that it will generate the same amount of money as a district with a $250,000 per-pupil property tax base.
Under Kasich's plan, Ohio school districts will not receive fewer state school funding dollars next year than they did this year, even in the midst of drastic changes to the state's school funding model.
"We decided that every school in this state should be marked in the 96 percentile," Kasich said. "If you live in a district that is property poor, then you're going to receive a lot more state aid. We're going to help you more. If you live in a district that has greater wealth, we expect that you're going to be able to be of more help to yourself."
According to Barbara Mattei-Smith, assistant policy director for education, only 21 districts, or approximately four percent of districts, in the state have more than $250,000 per-pupil property tax base.
Mattei-Smith and Ohio's Director of 21st Century Education Richard Ross reviewed other key aspects of the plan outlined in a PowerPoint presentation, including provisions for providing additional aid for specific student populations.
"We've set a good base for all of our students so now we can address the individual needs [of students]," said Mattei-Smith.
Areas receiving special attention in the governor's plan include childhood poverty, special education, early childhood programs, English as a second language and resources for gifted and talented students.
Kasich discussed the need for Ohio to eventually phase out "guaranteed funds," currently implemented in the state education system.
"Some school districts have seen their population drop in half, but their funding continues to go up," said Kasich. "It's taking resources from those that really need it. This is not sustainable and this is not fair."
Panelists then responded to selected questions submitted on the governor's Facebook pages and via Twitter, which included questions about assisting over-committed teachers, school transparency, plans to promote learning during the summer and a question about who was consulted prior to the creation of the education proposal.
"I met with teachers, principals, superintendents, board members and asked what they wanted us to address in the school funding plan," said Mattei-Smith.
Kasich said his office will provide specific district funding breakdowns by the middle of next week, and said he is hopeful that the state legislature will approve the education plan.
A breakdown of the proposal, as prepared by the governor's office, is available in the PDF document below.