Recent Events | Costing
The Ohio State Constitution
requires the General Assembly to provide and fund "a thorough and efficient
system of common schools throughout the State." In Miller v. Korns,
140 N.E. 773 (1923), the Ohio
Supreme Court interpreted this provision to mean, inter alia, that a thorough
and efficient system could not be one in which any school districts are "starved
for funds" or "lacked teachers, buildings, or equipment." In 1976,
the court upheld the state's then-current funding system on the basis that all
districts had the fiscal resources necessary to meet state minimum standards.
In that opinion, Board of Education of Cincinnati v. Walter, 390 N.E.2d
813, the court left the door open for possible future "adequacy" litigation
when it said that a funding system would violate the constitution if "a school
district was receiving so little local and state revenue that the students were
effectively being deprived of educational opportunity."
In 1991, the
Ohio Coalition for Equity
& Adequacy of School Funding filed such an adequacy lawsuit, DeRolph
v. State. In 1997, the state supreme court declared the state's education
finance system unconstitutional, 677
N.E.2d 733, and ordered the state to change: the "Foundation Program";
the "over reliance" on local property taxes; "forced borrowing";
and insufficient state funding for school buildings. Despite subsequent funding
increases, the court found the funding system substantially unchanged and still
unconstitutional in 2000, DeRolph II, 728
N.E.2d 993. Later, the state adopted a school-facilities funding program initiated
by Governor Taft.
In 2001, the state revised the funding system and increased
state funding for education, but not by an amount sufficient
to satisfy the plaintiffs. Later that year, the court
III and appointed a mediator. But, mediation
failed, and, in late 2002, the Ohio Supreme Court
declared the finance
system unconstitutional, again, and directed the General
Assembly to remedy the deficiencies. The court did not
after the legislature rejected the governor's proposed tax increase for education,
plaintiffs asked the Superior Court for a compliance conference on DeRolph.
The state asked the state supreme court to
prohibit such action. The court, which had changed due to judicial elections,
did so, thus ending the case.
1993, the Alliance for Adequate School Funding, hired a consulting firm - which
used the statistical modeling
methodology - to determine the per-pupil cost of an adequate education in
Ohio. In 1994, when the DeRolph trial court declared the funding system
unconstitutional, it ordered the State
Board of Education to prepare proposals for elimination of wealth-based disparities
for the legislature. The State Board hired experts - who used the "successful
schools" methodology. In 1997, the governor established the Ohio School
Funding Task Force, which hired an expert to generate new cost-based figures.
He used the "successful schools" method.
Each subsequent cost
study resulted in lower calculated costs for the "thorough and efficient"
education guaranteed by the state constitution. The legislature further reduced
the last cost calculation when it revised the funding system--reductions that
the court rejected in its DeRolph II decision.
NCLB Cost Study:
$1.5 Billion More
In January 2004, Ohio announced
the results of an analysis of NCLB's financial impact on the state. The study
concluded that the state will have to spend $1.447 billion dollars more annually
to implement NCLB, an 11% increase in
education spending in Ohio. The actual cost estimate was $1.491 billion, but the
study also estimated an increased federal contribution of $44 million for NCLB.
Recent Events: Advocacy Continues
Fair Schools held public hearings across the state
to provide citizens the opportunity to testify about
how the lack of state funding was affecting their local
schools. Separately, "Project Chalkboard"
led caravans to rallies in over 75 communities and culminated
in a large rally in Columbus, the state capital, on
May 5, 2004 to urge the state to "fix" the
school funding system.
In 2007, the Campaign for Ohio’s Future failed
in its attempt to place a proposed constitutional amendment
before voters. The amendment would have made a “high
quality education” a fundamental right for Ohio
children. The group gathered more than 150,000 of the
402,276 signatures it needed to put the proposal to
a referendum, and announced that it would continue with
Molly A. Hunter, Trying to Bridge the Gap: Ohio's Search
for an Education Finance Remedy, 26 Journal of Education
Finance 63 (Summer 2000)
Last updated, March, 2008