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Rep. Sweeney testifies on bill to ensure parity between low-income public schools and private schools

Legislation would address unique state funding challenges of Sweeney's Brooklyn City School District
December 2, 2020
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today gave sponsor testimony before the Primary and Secondary Education Committee on House Bill (HB) 504, which would provide parity with private schools for low-income public schools. Her legislation addresses the unique funding challenges of Brooklyn City School District, where hardworking residents have supported a whopping 54 mills, which is one of the highest mill to income ratios in Ohio.

“The state should not send less aid to low-income public schools than it does to private schools. Right now, that is simply not the case,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Brooklyn residents have stepped up time and time again to support their schools. The state needs to hold up its end of the bargain and provide the certainty that this type of disparity will never happen again. House Bill 504 is only one component of the important struggle for fair school funding in Ohio. Passing and funding House Bill 305 (Cupp, Patterson) would also be tremendous for Brooklyn, the entire state, and future generations.”

According to the Legislative Service Commission, 30 districts receive less state aid than chartered nonpublic schools do. This funding disparity between public schools and private schools has been a longstanding issue in Ohio politics. Governor DeWine and Governor Kasich line-item vetoed budget measures to give parity to all of these schools, because many of those 30 public school districts are wealthy. However, Brooklyn is not.

The Ohio Department of Education considers half of Brooklyn’s students to be economically disadvantaged. However, in recent years the district only received half of what private schools receive from the state for auxiliary service and administrative cost reimbursement. Currently, the funding disparity is about a third less for Brooklyn than nearly private schools.

The bill now awaits further hearings in the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.