Kasich Unveils Plan For Education Funding Reform

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UPDATE 3:45 P.M. Ohio's superintendents heard Thursday they 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.

Governor John Kasich unveiled his new school funding plan called "Achievement Everywhere" in an afternoon gathering of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators at the Polaris Hilton in Columbus.

The governor's plan largely aims to equalize funding for districts of economic difference across the state.      

"We wanted to make sure every girl and boy, no matter what district they are going to, have the resources to compete with other boys and girls in districts across the state," said Kasich.

School districts are required to levy 20 mills in property taxes for funding, but there is currently great disparity, says Barbara Mattei-Smith, assistant policy director of education in the Office of the Governor.

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.

According to Mattei-Smith, only 21 districts, or approximately 4 percent of districts, in the state have more than $250,000 per-pupil property tax base.

The equalization element is called "Core Opportunity Aid."

The plan also makes provisions for additional aid for specific student populations.

"If you have poor kids, we're going to help and if you have disabled kids, we're going to help and if you have gifted kids, we're going to give you resources to lift them up and we're going to help. It's based on your population," said Kasich.

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.

Governor Kasich specifically mentioned Gallia Local Schools in his address, citing the district as a system that may be underserved by the current formula because another school district is taking resources the Gallia students need.

Also announced were plans to reward school districts for efficiency and innovation in their operations.

These incentives include:

 – The Straight A Fund: a new $300 million fund of one-time grants for districts wanting to try new ways to improve student achievement levels and also increase operational efficiency.

 – Barrier Removal: superintendents have the option to set aside certain mandates, such as the mandated 184 days of instruction, in favor of moving to a count of instructional hours rather than days.

 – Increased district communication: Kasich wants similar districts to compare what works for them in educational achievement and management practices so idea-sharing can strengthen districts across the state.

The governor told the audience the new plan is constitutional and fully-funded.    

He cited good stewardship and a rebounding state economy as reasons he was offering a plan with financial backing.

Under the new plan, school districts will see a projected $1.2 billion in new state funds over the next two years.

A breakdown of the proposal, as prepared by the governor's office, is available in the PDF document below.

UPDATE 2:15 P.M. Ohio's governor is proposing a school-funding overhaul he says will help poor districts compete more evenly while introducing changes to promote innovation and performance.

The plan unveiled by Republican John Kasich Thursday is focused on giving all students the resources to succeed. Kasich's funding plan would boost districts that are lagging in property values and household incomes.
Kasich education advisers say no schools will see reduced funding next year under the current formula, and overall funding will rise. A special fund would be created to reward districts for efficiency and advances.
The plan also offers help for extra costs of special-needs students, and to provide more school choice.
The long-awaited plan is expected to kick off months of debate over Ohio's education direction.


UPDATE 1:00 p.m. Ohio's governor says his long-awaited education funding overhaul is focused on giving students an even chance to compete.

Gov. John Kasich also says he believes the plan being announced later Thursday will pass constitutional muster. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that Ohio relied too much on property taxes, which can vary widely between rich and poor districts.

The Republican governor told a legislative preview organized for journalists by The Associated Press that the overhaul strips out politics and pushes funding dollars into the classrooms. He says students in every part of state should have the resources to compete, regardless of what kind of district they are in. He says that includes disabled students.

Kasich stopped short Thursday morning of disclosing any specifics about his plan.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's long-awaited education funding overhaul is nearly here.

The Republican governor has scheduled a series of events Thursday to showcase the proposal. The announcement is anticipated to kick off months of debate over the best direction for Ohio's public school system.

Kasich's plan is expected to contain a host of policy reforms including his attempt at resolving constitutional issues with the existing school-funding formula that assigns district-by-district subsidies.

Kasich has hinted at a variety of broad ideas including enhanced parental control, funding that follows the poorest children when they choose a different education option and monetary rewards for teachers whose students show measurable improvement.

Statehouse Democrats on Wednesday asked for a voice in the process that the governor has kept unusually quiet.