district based on its equalized pupil count; the block grant will be adjusted by annual price index; pupil count is weighted to reflect poverty, primary/secondary students, and limited English proficiency;

  • appropriates additional $9.6 million for capital construction;
  • allows discretionary spending by local districts above the block grant and provides for equalization of ability to raise funds for this spending;
  • includes several education reforms including student standards, new assessments, school improvement grants, early childhood programs, and others;
  • replaces local property taxes for schools with a statewide education property tax, setting one rate for homestead and nonresidential property; and
  • finances the changes through a statewide education property tax and various tax increases.
  • Ohio

    Recent court decisions in Ohio blur the lines between equity and adequacy. In the 1970s, an Ohio Supreme Court decision had squarely rejected a traditional equity challenge to the state's school finance system. In 1991, however, a coalition of plaintiffs filed suit claiming that the education provided in their schools was constitutionally inadequate. Following a lengthy trial, the court ruled for the plaintiffs, relying heavily on the Kentucky court's prior articulation of adequacy standards in elaborating the Ohio constitution's requirements. That trial court decision, however, was quickly appealed by the state attorney general's office.

    In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the trial court's decision, but the high court focused more on educational inputs, traditionally associated with the equity theory, than on outputs, which tend to be more of a focus in adequacy decisions (DeRolph v. State, 79 Oh.St.3d 297, 1997). The court criticized the heavy reliance on local property taxes to fund schools, reminded the legislature of their responsibility to support a "statewide" education system, called for a "systemic overhaul" of the funding system, and gave the legislature a year to develop a new finance system. Despite the court's emphasis on input equity, however, the state legislature's response to the court was more in keeping with the trial court's broader ruling.

    Like the Wyoming legislature, the Ohio legislature attempted to determine what it would cost to provide all students in the state with an adequate and equitable education. To determine that amount, the legislature looked at the spending patterns of districts within the state that were in compliance with state input and outcome standards. Using an average spending level for those districts, and adjusting for differing costs around the state and for differing need-levels of student populations, the legislature has established a baseline level of school spending that each district will be assured. It remains to be seen whether these new arrangements will be the subject of legal challenge.

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