Once again a batch of area school districts have levies on Tuesday’s ballot — 14 in four area counties and nine seeking new money, six of those in Montgomery County.
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Your election source
Learn more about candidates and issues on our ballot Tuesday. We have information on hundreds of levies and candidates from around the region, and you’ll also find our interactive voters guide at MyDaytonDailyNews.com/election2013
On Election night
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By the numbers
14 — School districts with levies on ballot in four-county Dayton area
9 — Districts requesting additional money (other five are renewals)
34% — Of new-money school levies have passed in Ohio since 2008
90% — Of renewal school levies have passed in Ohio since 2008.
Source: Ohio School Boards Association
Is Ohio school funding constitutional?
Ohio’s property-tax based school funding system was first ruled unconstitutional in 1997 as part of the DeRolph vs. State lawsuit. Barbara De Luca, associate dean of UD’s School of Education and Health Sciences said there’s no way to tell whether the current system is constitutional without a court challenge.
“In 2002, the Supreme Court said the school funding system is unconstitutional, but don’t bring it back to us again because it’s not a judicial issue, it’s a legislative issue,” De Luca said. “The legislature has made a whole lot of changes since then, but no one’s ever taken anything to court. … One of the things we know is not consistent with what the Supreme Court mandated in earlier decisions is the fact that they said we are much too reliant on property tax. That has not changed, and the state and the school districts don’t seem that interested in changing it.”
State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, is chair of the Senate Education Committee and has seen multiple efforts to make school funding fairer. Just after this year’s state budget tweaked the formula again, Lehner said there may be no such thing as a perfect formula that satisfies the vast differences among Ohio’s 600-plus public school districts.
“Every governor since the DeRolph decisions has felt the need to change the funding system to try to arrive at that perfect, magic formula. And no one has been able to do it,” she added last week.
The Fordham Institute, an education policy group, says it’s time to look beyond the old questions.
“We’d like to push the school funding debate beyond the equity and adequacy arguments where we’re trying to find this magic number of how much it costs to educate a child,” said Aaron Churchill, policy analyst at Fordham. “That varies so much depending on the background of the child, whether they have special needs or an economically disadvantaged background or (parental involvement). … What I’d like to see is that we focus our energy on how districts or charters are allocating their resources, and move more toward the issues of effectiveness and efficiency with the resources they’re given.”
— Jeremy P. Kelley, Staff Writer