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Published: Saturday, 2/15/2014


Not fair, not adequate

A new study shows that Ohio is falling behind other states in the adequacy and equity of its support of public schools.

Ohio slipped from 14th among the states in 2007 to 19th in 2011 in per-pupil funding, according to the study by the New Jersey-based Education Law Center in Newark. Even when the state used federal stimulus money — which has expired — for school aid in 2011, poorer districts in Ohio fared worse than wealthier ones, the study found.

The overall funding gap between poor and richer school districts has widened, the study concludes. That’s important because the state has a large number of districts — such as Toledo Public Schools — with high concentrations of low-income students, said Danielle Farrie, one of the researchers who worked on the study.

Last year, state government adopted a new funding formula that supporters said would make school aid more equitable. But the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last fall that southwest Ohio districts with the most minority students would not get as much aid per student as less-diverse districts.

The current state budget increases school aid by $831 million over the previous two-year budget. But that figure is still $607 million less than was provided in the 2010-11 budget.

The national report card also found that Ohio public schools are losing a larger percentage of higher-wealth students than in other states. That means a loss of social capital and the will to invest in public schools, Ms. Farrie said.

Across the nation, average annual per-pupil funding ranged from $6,753 in Idaho to $17,397 in Wyoming, the study found. Ohio’ 2011 amount was $10,828 — a drop of $242 from the previous year, the study said.

The report sensibly calls for a link between the amount of aid a state gives its public schools and the cost of meeting its education standards. If Ohio wants to produce a smart work force, it must match funding with the state’s ambitious education goals.

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