Published Mon, Feb 4, 2013 7:39 pm Dateline
Southeast Ohio politicians are reacting to a new state education funding plan that largely aims to level the playing field for Ohio school districts by boosting funding across the board.
State Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) said his office is still absorbing many details of "Achievement Everywhere," the name of the plan unveiled by Gov. John Kasich at the end of last week.
He said he thinks it will have a positive impact on the region.
"For our part of the state, where our districts are much less wealthy, it will be beneficial in trying to put us on a level playing field with the wealthier districts in the state," said Balderson. "For those less wealthy districts, like the one that I serve, it should be a net benefit."
Balderson said he does not believe there is strong opposition to Kasich's plan, but said he does think more specifics are needed for everyone to be comfortable with the proposal.
State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) is hesitant about some aspects of the plan.
"I would hate to see a system that focused so much on trying to reward excellence that it stripped resources away from the kids who start the furthest behind because really what we should be doing is trying to identify what the needs are and providing those opportunities to students," said Phillips.
The new formula will 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.
The plan also makes provisions for additional aid for specific student populations.
Special education students, English language learners, those with limited access to early childhood education, gifted and talented students and children living in poverty all fall under the priority of directing dollars to the classroom, according to the governor's advisers.
The governor also announced plans to reward school districts for efficiency and innovation in their operations.