Saturday, August 14, 2004

School funding options proposed

By Cindy Kranz
Enquirer staff writer

BLUE ASH - A group of state legislators unveiled proposals for school funding alternatives Friday, while criticizing a governor's task force idea to redistribute the wealth among all districts.

"This week, preliminary reports from the Governor's Blue Ribbon tax force suggested the redistribution of $330 million across the state," said Rep. Jim Trakas, R-Independence. "This is Robin Hood funding at its worst. Taking from Peter to pay Paul is not a sensible school funding measure."

Trakas is a member of Legislators Advocating Sensible Education Reform (LASER), which presented its own ideas to school officials and the public at the Blue Ash Government Center.

Their package of proposals, Trakas said, will help all school districts.

Among the proposals:

• House Bill 526 would allow local school boards various options to decide with voters the best way to fund districts.

• House Bill 418 and 480 would allow high-growth school districts better access to the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program and to alter the School District Income Tax to apply only to earned income, giving districts another option besides asking voters to approve property tax increases.

• House Bill 356 would provide local school districts with the option to create a ballot initiative for a countywide sales tax.

• House Bill 532 would address the problem of phantom revenue, replacing it with actual revenue.

Arnold Engel, who opposed last week's defeated Fairfield school levy, said the legislators' proposals all mean increases in taxes.

"I believe the majority of people who voted 'no' believe schools are funded properly. It is not a funding problem in our schools. It is a spending problem in schools," said Engel, founder of Citizens for Accountability and Results in Education.


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