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Ohio's Eight Urban School Districts Want Lawmakers To Keep House School Funding Plan

A sign outside Clinton Elementary School reads "All CCS Schools Closed 3/16 to 5/1 - Wash your hands!"
Ryan Hitchcock

Leaders of Ohio’s eight urban school districts are urging lawmakers working on reconciling the difference between House and Senate passed budgets to remember how the outcome will affect many students. 

Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, is co-chair of the Ohio 8 coalition. He’s urging lawmakers to include the bipartisan school funding formula overhaulthat the House included in its budget but Republican Senators scrapped in their budget proposal.  

“Placing the fair funding budget back into the budget would address or begin to address the ongoing constitutionality issue and address the needs of Ohio’s poorest children," Gordon said.

In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ohio's method of funding schools violated the state's constitution but didn't prescribe a way for lawmakers to fix that problem.  The bipartisan school funding overhaul is believed by many to do that by reducing over-reliance on property taxes.

The Ohio 8 group also said lawmakers need to keep the Step Up to Quality preschool program, which the Senate’s budget cuts. Senators said the program was too bureaucratic and made it harder for operators to provide child care, thereby eliminating options for low-income parents who need those services  for their kids.

Julie Sellers, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers and Ohio 8 Co-Chair, said new school transportation mandates in the budget limit the use of public transportation for students, something she said many people preferred. She also said restrictions on how districts can use their own buses could lead to elimination of transportation for their high school students.

Gordon said the group also doesn't like changes to who is allowed to sponsor charter schools. He added it would amount to a return to those days when Ohio was considered the "wild, wild west"  of charter schools because virtually anyone could sponsor them for any reason. 

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

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.