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Key Senator Concerned About Wraparound Services Money Folded Into Ohio School Funding Overhaul

Ohio Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls)
Ohio Senate
Ohio Senate
Ohio Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls)

The head of the Ohio Senate committee looking over the House-approved version of the state budget says he’s concerned that the new school funding formula includes money that was supposed to be earmarked specifically to help economically disadvantaged kids catch up to their wealthier counterparts.

Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said the school funding overhaul includes more than a billion dollars that Gov. Mike DeWine set aside for tutoring, counseling and other wraparound services for low-income kids.

He's concerned that the money won't get used for the purposes it was set aside for.

“When the wellness dollars from the governor are put into the school funding formula, that's a concern of mine, because those dollars are designed not to go to the school district to help outside agencies, but to help students get prepared for when they are in the school system," Dolan said in an interview for "The State of Ohio".

House Republicans say those dollars were merged into the formula to ensure that they’ll be included as long as the formula is in place, regardless of whether a future governor sets aside wellness dollars or not. The formula will be fully phased in over six years.

The overhaul that's part of the two-year budget was founded in the Cupp-Patterson plan that passed the House overwhelmingly last year. It didn't move forward in the Senate, and Dolan said then he was concerned about the nearly $2 billion cost and rushing it through before the end of the session. It was proposed as House Bill 1 in February.

The plan in the House version of the budget puts $150 million toward the new formula in the second year, with the rest of the cost paid for in the next two budgets as it's phased in.

Lawmakers who support the new funding formula, which calculates state aid based on 60% property taxes and 40% personal income, say no district will lose money in the six-year phase in. But a document on the House Finance Committee's website shows 96 districts will lose money.

"I have seen a printout," Dolan said of the document. "It shows some schools losing money and I've heard statements saying no school will lose money."

"I want stability and predictability. But if we're saying, 'OK, yeah, but you're on the guarantee, if you lose money, we'll still make sure you get the same money' - that's the slippery slope that we've been on in the past. So the answer is, the House is going to have to answer that question. We will address it in our in our plan," Dolan said.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.