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Chance to fix school funding is at hand

DEAR EDITOR:

This spring provides a real opportunity to fix our state’s broken school funding formula. Under the current school funding formula only 17 percent of schools are actually funded using it while 83 percent are funded outside the formula. In the case of Lordstown Local Schools, we are a capped district resulting in the state of Ohio taking approximately 50 percent, or $800,000, in funding that the formula rightfully says we should get. The current system results in Lordstown receiving only $2,500 per student from the state.

For nearly two years, 15 school officials have worked with Ohio Reps. Robert Cupp, R-Lima, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, to develop a formula that is transparent, centered around what it takes to actually educate a student, and provides predictability in funding and budgeting. This proposed new funding system, titled the Fair School Funding Plan, has been supported by many state officials as well as education representatives throughout Ohio. This may be the first real opportunity to achieve quality change and fairness in Ohio’s school funding system.

Lordstown Schools specifically will see a cumulative loss of over $20 million dollars with the phase out of the formerly locally generated Tangible Personal Property, or TPP, tax. While this was designed to help retain and grow businesses in Ohio, the State of Ohio promised at the time to reimburse impacted districts. That lasted about four years when the elimination of this began. This combined with the potential loss of General Motors property tax revenue ($800,000) demonstrates that the current funding system’s reliance on property values, and local property taxes, is broken. The newly proposed formula weights income levels of school districts more heavily than the current “formula” creating more fairness in the funding system.

The negotiated agreement Lordstown Local Schools has with Lordstown Energy Center has greatly assisted us in dealing with TPP reimbursement losses and the impact of the funding cap. It is time that Ohio provide a realistic level of funding by adopting the Ohio Fair School Funding plan and / or elimination of the funding cap. The students, school families and taxpayers of Lordstown and other impacted districts deserve nothing less from the State of Ohio.

We have held financial forums, hosted co-sponsor Rep. Patterson and have organized lobbying by the community in Lordstown to reach out to members of the Ohio legislature to move this plan forward. The next two-year budget is in the Ohio Senate. We encourage everyone in Lordstown and area districts to reach out to state senators and other state officials to help achieve fundamental change in education funding in Ohio.

TERRY ARMSTRONG

Superintendent

Lordstown Local Schools

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