In addition, OEA welcomes the provision in the budget to allow districts to get out from under the failed Academic Distress Commission law, though OEA remains troubled by the massive, unprecedented boost to taxpayer funded, private school tuition vouchers and the creation of tuition tax credits to further use taxpayer money to subsidize private school tuition.
“We are extremely pleased that the Fair School Funding Plan will be our school funding system during this biennium and appreciate the House negotiators for providing a convincing argument that our kids are worth the investment,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “It will provide the framework for the state of Ohio to finally meet its constitutional mandate of providing a world-class education to every Ohio public school student, regardless of location or station. But in order to do so, the state must fulfill this plan’s great promise beyond these next two years. So the work continues. But the good news is advocacy from our members, communities, parents and students made a difference. And it will continue to do so.”
OEA is especially concerned that the committee report does not make future commitments to the Fair School Funding Plan because Ohio Director of the Office of Budget and Management Kimberly Murnieks told conference committee members Thursday that state revenue would be more than $3 billion above original projections for this fiscal year.
“The state had more than enough money to fully fund the Fair School Funding Plan as originally calculated, rather than delay its full implementation,” DiMauro said. “The plan only required about half of the additional revenue to fully fund it in this budget without delay. It’s disappointing the Senate wouldn’t allow the state’s strong revenues to benefit students more quickly.”
OEA is also pleased that the Senate’s approach allowing all three school districts currently forced to operate under the failed Academic Distress Commission law to seek dismissal from the commission’s oversight.
“For too long, districts have been forced to adhere to this failed law that takes local communities out of the decision-making process for their schools,” DiMauro said. “We are glad that the budget allows districts to get out from under this unnecessarily punitive law.”
Of vouchers and tuition tax credits, DiMauro said, “We remain concerned with the legislature’s blind loyalty to a program that provides taxpayer funded private school tuition subsidies to folks who never intended to send their children to public schools in the first place and does not generally improve student outcomes. Add the new tuition tax credit to the vouchers and it appears that the priority is the 8 percent of students in private schools, not the 92 percent of students who are in Ohio’s public schools.”