To the editor:

Since the first school district foundation program in 1935, “new” school funding arrangements have become ineffectual after a couple years because of state neglect.

Prior to 1935, the state provided 4% of the revenue for school districts. The first foundation program bumped up the State portion of school revenue to 50%; but, the State portion diminished to 30% by the 1960’s.

Some state legislators struggled vigorously over several years (that was before term limits) to make improvements. In the mid 1970s, subsequent to the “Syracuse” study, the legislature enacted the Equal Yield Formula. This was a rational formula except that it did not yield and was not equal. Why? It was starved of funds from the beginning!

Without fanfare, the Ohio Department of Education developed a revised foundation formula in 1980 which was in effect several years. After the DeRolph school funding suit was filed in 1991, the legislature attempted to hijack the litigation by throwing a little money to 200 of the lowest wealth districts via an equity supplemental fund. The districts spent the “equity money” and continued to support the litigation.

The Strickland administration, with the able assistance of then-Rep. Steve Dyer, developed the Ohio Evidence-based model that was to be phased in over six years. The Kasich administration substituted the evidence-based model with a funding plan pulled out of thin air; hence, an excellent plan died, while the legislature stood by in benign neglect.

The Cupp/Patterson Fair Funding Plan will end up on the same ash heap of history if it is neglected in the future.

William L. Phillis
Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding