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Funding Levels For State's School Districts In Limbo During Budget Talks

The deadline for a new two-year state budget is just a month away. The House and the Governor have different proposals and the Senate is expected to deliver their version in about two weeks. Local school districts will have to wait to see what finally gets adopted.

Gov. John Kasich wants to change the school funding formula to put more state money into the hands of poor districts. He wants the state to look at the average income in a district, not just its property values, to decide how much money the district gets.

And under his proposal about half of Ohio’s 600 school districts, mostly the wealthier ones, would see cuts in state funding. 

But the House plan caps the size of increases to many low income districts and gives every district an increase. 

State Budget Director Tim Keen says it looks like the Senate is also taking a more conservative approach by ignoring average income in deciding the ability of a district to raise its own money.

“My understanding is that Senate is primarily discussing moving back to the current formula as a base and working from there.  The current formula has only a very modest consideration of income and frankly not focused in a way that we see is appropriate," Keen said. "At the very least I think they’re going to make an adjustment to that current factor but I’m not sure how far they’re going to go on a broader income factor.”

The three different proposals will have to be reconciled in a conference committee before the governor signs off on it by June 30.