Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Highlights of school funding battle

        1982: The legislature changes the funding formula. The new system is designed to guarantee local revenue and state aid will provide a defined amount per pupil.

        January 1991: Cleveland Public Schools files a class-action lawsuit challenging the school-funding system.

        May 1991: The Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding sues on behalf of Keeley Thomson, the Southern Local School District and others in Perry County Common Pleas Court. The lawsuit against the state contests the funding system's constitutionality.

        July 1991: The state successfully petitions that the case be moved to federal court. (In 1995, the coalition drops the lawsuit.)

        December 1991: A second complaint is filed by the coalition in Perry County on behalf of Dale R. DeRolph, Northern Local School District and others.

        July 7, 1994: Judge Linton D. Lewis Jr. of Perry County Common Pleas Court rules the state constitution requires that Ohio do more than provide “a thorough and efficient system of education.” It also must provide sufficient money for all districts to meet that goal.

        Aug. 30, 1995: In a 2-1 ruling, the Ohio 5th District Court of Appeals in Canton overrules Judge Lewis' decision. The state's school-funding plan is constitutional unless the state Supreme Court decides otherwise, the judges said.

        March 24, 1997: The Supreme Court votes, 4-3, to hold the funding system unconstitutional. This gives the state a year to come up with a new plan. The case is returned to Judge Lewis.

        May 5, 1998: Ohio voters reject a penny-on-the-dollar sales-tax increase to generate $1.1 billion a year, half for schools and half for property-tax relief. The tax increase was part of the state's answer to the Supreme Court ruling.

        Aug. 23, 1998: Judge Lewis opens two weeks of hearings on whether the state has met the court's criteria.

        Feb. 26, 1999: Judge Lewis rules that the school-funding system remains unconstitutional. State appeals to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that legislators have defined the cost of an education, and pumped more money into basic aid and school buildings.

        Tuesday : The state and lawyers for the coalition make oral arguments to the justices, who will decide sometime next year if the latest system of funding is constitutional.


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