By Terrence O’Donnell, Esq., Bricker & Eckler, LLC
Ohio ACTE Legislative Counsel
On February 13, 2013, one day after the Governor revealed his proposed state budget bill, two of his top education policy advisors, Barbara Mattei-Smith and Richard A. Ross, testified before the Ohio House of Representatives Finance Committee to outline proposed changes to the state’s K-12school funding formula.
Formula, Generally: The formula appears to provide a base level of funding to every district (“core opportunity funds”) on a “per pupil” basis. Next, the formula seeks to target resources to those districts with relatively lower income and property values. The core funds and the targeted resources, together, provide funds for the general operation of the school. The formula then makes available additional dollars based on “unique needs” of students such as those with disabilities, those not yet proficient in English, economically disadvantaged students, gifted students, etc.
Career Tech: In recognition of the fact that career technical education is indeed more costly than traditional school, the formula retains what is commonly referred to as “weighted funding.” Ohio ACTE is pleased the Governor’s budget acknowledges this reality as the preservation of weighted funding was a major goal of the association. At the same time, the formula revises the amount of weighted funding to support career tech. Under current law, career tech funds are weighted an additional 57%. Under the Governor’s proposal, the weights are not a percentage of the whole but rather a fixed dollar amount. In addition, the proposed weights are not uniform across CTE as they are today at 57%. Rather, the career tech weighted funds as proposed in the Governor’s budget are allocated according to career field and are grouped in five categories as follows:
- 1. $2,900: Environmental & Agricultural Systems, Construction Technologies, Engineering & Science Technologies, Finance, Health Science, IT, Manufacturing Technologies
- 2. $2,600: Business & Administrative, Hospitality & Tourism, Human Services, Law & Public Safety, Transportation Systems
- 3. $1,650: Career Based-Intervention
- 4. $1,200: Arts & Communications, Education & Training, Marketing, Workforce Development Academics, Career Development
- 5. $900: GRADS, Family & Consumer Sciences
Career tech superintendents, treasurers, administrators, and others are actively testing this formula, running the numbers, and simulating the proposal’s fiscal impact. While the Governor’s Office released a spreadsheet simulating the impact of the formula on JVSDs, the spreadsheet did not appear to take into account the changes to the weighted funding system. (It appeared to only calculate the changes to the base amount).
Guarantees: Finally, at least for the next two years, the proposal also continues the “guarantees” seen in other recent school funding formulas whereby the State will provide base resources to a school not less than the resources received in the past year to avoid budget “destabilization” in the short term. However, future legislation could certainly eliminate the guarantees and simply allocate dollars strictly per the formula without a safety net. Should this occur, it is expected that districts with declining student populations could see their funding levels decrease accordingly.
As Ohio ACTE representatives and leadership continue to meet with the Governor’s Office and key legislative leaders and gain additional information about the impact of the budget proposal, we will keep members informed.
Read the full testimony of Barbara Mattei-Smith
Read the full testimony of Dick Ross