Saturday, April 07, 2001

School-funding formula devised




By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft said Friday that he's agreed with legislative leaders on a method of reaching a per-pupil spending level in a new school funding plan.

        The dollar figure for per-pupil state spending, though, remained under discussion, Mr. Taft said.

        The state would reach the per-pupil figure by determining the cost of educating pupils in districts that meet 20 of 27 standards, based on proficiency tests and other factors. The figure would emerge after removing the top 5 percent and lowest 5 percent of districts, based on cost.

        “We're in agreement on the methodology that they (legislative leaders) are using. We've got to make sure that we agree on the numbers the methodology produces,” Mr. Taft said after a speech to the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

        The latest plan to emerge in the Legislature would spend up to $4,800 on each Ohio schoolchild annually, meaning an additional $1.4 billion over two years.

        Mr. Taft, whose original education plan called for $808 million in new spending, has repeatedly cited concerns about more expensive plans in the House and Senate. However, he seemed ready to endorse a higher figure. He would not provide a specific number.

        “I cannot give that number because the number changes with a lot of other factors that are still under discussion,” he said. “It's going to be significantly above $800 million over the next two years.”

        Lawmakers are working under a June 15 deadline set by the Ohio Supreme Court to come up with a new funding plan. The court twice has ruled that the current method is unconstitutional, primarily because its reliance on local property taxes creates disparities among Ohio's 612 school districts.

       



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