Gov. John Kasich today unveiled his school funding reform plan, “Achievement Everywhere,” which aims to distribute funds fairly to districts and give principals more autonomy.
The plan will be part of the governor’s overall 2014-2015 budget proposal, which is expected to be released next week. Thursday’s proposal includes $1.2 billion in new money for schools during the next two years.
Kasich told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon that the additional money is possible because the state has cut costs in other areas and brought in new jobs, which increases the state’s overall revenue. He said his plan would be fully funded from the start, rather than phased in over time.
Ohio’s school funding formula, which is based on property taxes, was repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. Former Gov. Ted Strickland proposed a plan to address this, as well, but it was not fully funded when passed.
Kasich’s plan would create a base funding level for all but the wealthiest districts, based on a per-student property tax base. Kasich said he wanted to empower principals and make sure that money was spent in the classroom whenever possible.
According to a fact sheet on the governor’s website, this could mean districts would get more money to educate students with special education needs, English language learners and children whose families live in poverty.
The proposal also includes plans for a grant program, the “Straight A Fund,” designed to encourage districts to try new approaches to increase student achievement and lessen costs. The proposal also mentions that some mandates could be waived at the district level, but does not clarify which mandates that would be.
The Plain Dealer reports that while specific funding details won’t be available until next week, no districts would lose money during the next two years under this proposal. Check out this article for a closer look at how state money would be distributed to districts under this proposal.
The Columbus Dispatch outlines a portion of the governor’s plan not mentioned in the fact sheet—an expansion of the state’s voucher program aimed at students entering kindergarten. In the conference call, Kasich said this moved the voucher program from focusing on failing schools to focusing on helping families with low income.
Additionally, the governor indicated the potential for funding relief for some of the district’s most expensive student costs. One example of that initiative would include the state providing some additional financial aid for districts to spend on students with disabilities or special needs.
The governor and his presenters shared some exciting news regarding plans to lift financial barriers for districts looking to modernize education through innovative thinking and use of technology in order to provide a more individualized education for all students.
Mentor Schools’ administration agrees with this concept, and is in the process of developing an educational hybrid program.
“We truly believe in the value of bringing technology into our classrooms, many of our teachers are already piloting initiatives, and we’re getting ready for an instructional shift,” said Mentor Schools Superintendent Matthew Miller in a statement.
“Today’s students are a different type of learner than students of the past, and we need to change our classrooms in order to ensure they are career or college ready when they graduate. We are encouraged the governor is proposing to offer some assistance programs and grant money, to assist us in bringing some of the innovative ideas being researched by Mentor Schools to fruition.”
Also in the statement, Mentor Schools added:
Regardless of the new budget, Mentor Schools still faces funding challenges from previous cuts by the state of an accumulated $32 million since the 2005-2006 school year.
While we do not have enough details to fully understand the impact of the proposed plans at this time, administrators look forward to learning more when the governor releases his state budget next week.
The district will then closely monitor the budget process over the next several months to determine how the changes will affect the Mentor Public Schools community.
- Columbus Dispatch: “Education reform aims to expand voucher program, reduce funding gaps”
- Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich's school plan would dramatically overhaul Ohio's funding formula”