Focus is on the Fair School Funding Plan

By Chuck Gibson  

LOVELAND, OH (July 16, 2021) – Ohio Representative Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) and the rest of the Ohio legislators passed a State Budget Bill (HB-110) on June 28, signed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine July 1.

Ohio Statehouse – Columbus, OH (File Photo)

When legislators passed the budget bill Monday, June 28, Schmidt expressed her pride in supporting HB-110 as good for Ohioan and especially those she represents as Ohio’s 65th House District Representative.

“I was proud to vote in support of House Bill 110 for the people of Ohio’s 65th district,” said Schmidt. “This budget is good for Ohioans. It invests in our children’s future, supports Ohio’s businesses, stands with law enforcement and first responders, and provides much needed tax relief.”

In a statement released from her office in Columbus, Ohio, Schmidt highlighted six specific items in the bill. She cited Tax Relief with a 3-percent across the board cut for personal income tax, and elimination of income tax for anyone making less than $25K annually. Keeping and Creating Jobs is among the highlights of the bill with $155 Million earmarked in HB-110 to assist industries in recovery from COVID-19 pandemic while also keeping Ohio a competitive workplace and place to live. The bill allocates $250 Million for expansion of broadband services to parts of Ohio where it is cost-prohibitive for telecommunications companies. Support for law enforcement, first responders, veterans and businesses were other key items Schmidt supported in the bill.

Maybe most impactful at home in Loveland is the Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP) passed by the House as part of HB-110 and supported by Schmidt. Though she says all the numbers aren’t crunched yet, all the schools in her district including Loveland are “flat-lined or received a small bump up” with the FSFP. There are eight (8) unified school districts within the 65th district represented by Jean Schmidt. Along with Loveland, there is: Batavia, Blanchester, Clermont Northeastern, Goshen, Little Miami, Milford, and West Clermont School Districts. Schmidt says only Clermont Northeastern may face a cut in funding with the new state school funding plan. More than a decade of work has gone into crafting the FSFP just passed and still it leaves Schmidt with a common concern.

Jean Schmidt, State Representative, (R- Loveland) (File Photo)

“There is never enough money for schools; never enough money for education,” Schmidt said. “It’s always going to have to include a partnership with the local community.”

Homeowners, property owners, and business owners in Loveland and school districts all across Ohio don’t want to hear that “partnership” in funding schools for one main reason. It translates to school tax levies. Schmidt came prepared to explain how the Fair School Funding Plan just passed is, in some way, a more fair way to fund student education in Ohio. She had multiple documents showing funding examples and cost distribution calculations and an eight-page (8 pages) describing the FSFP in detail. It included things like “Base Cost”, “State and Local Share”, “Technology”, “Special Education”, “Choice”, and many more detailed education expense issues.  Obviously, there’s too much to address here, or even in an interview setting with Representative Schmidt. Let’s sum it up with the numbers used in the plan for Base Cost per pupil.

The final tally under the Fair School Funding Plan is based on actual expenses faced by a district, including teacher salaries and benefits, transportation, technology needs, and the number of administrators. The largest portion of the money – estimated to be 60% – is for direct classroom instruction. The FSFP approved in June sets the average base cost per student in most districts at $7,200. That figure does not represent what the State Share of funding will be. As noted by Schmidt, there’s never enough money and a partnership with the local community is always going to be needed. Call that the District Share. Determining the district share the old way was based almost solely on property tax values. The new plan changes that to include property tax values, and district resident’s income to provide a more accurate view of what a district can contribute to that base cost of $7,200 per student.

What does this mean in Loveland? Schmidt stuck with the base cost per student model of $7,200 for Loveland students. After that, she provided the example of the calculation of Base Cost Distribution.  (See document photo) 

Photo image of Base Cost Distribution Calculation (Document provided by Representative Jean Schmidt)

In short, the Loveland School District remains categorized as a “wealthy” school district calculating property tax values and resident incomes. The end result leaves the State Share of Base Cost Funding at $4,000 per student, leaving the District Share (aka community partnership share) at $3,200 per student. Keep in mind this budget, HB-110, and the FSFP is only for two years. Though lawmakers tried to include language for a six-year phase-in period for the school funding plan, that language was not included. There are no guarantees. Schmidt expressed obvious concern about spending decisions school boards will have to make.

“They need to understand they must be prudent with their decisions,” said Schmidt. “If they have to go back to the taxpayers, taxpayers will want to know the money has been well-spent.”

CLICK HERE to see a May 2021 review of components of the FSFP.

State Representative Jean Schmidt is serving her first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. She represents the 65th house district, which includes northwestern Clermont County. – For more information, contact Rep. Schmidt’s office at (614) 466-8134 or rep65@ohiohouse.gov.