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Sweeney and Callender Introduce House Bill 1, the 'Fair School Funding Plan'

Bipartisan bill would transform broken school funding formula that has plagued Ohio for decades
February 4, 2021
Bride Rose Sweeney News

State Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Jamie Callender (R-Concord) today introduced House Bill 1 – key, bipartisan legislation to modernize K-12 school funding across Ohio. The bill is virtually identical to last General Assembly’s House Bill 305, which was a school funding reform proposal that passed the House with overwhelming support late last year.

“After 23 years under a broken school funding system, Ohioans can’t afford to wait any longer for a fair and comprehensive solution. For every time the Legislature kicked the can down the road in the past, more students have been left behind and more families have moved out of our state,” said Rep. Sweeney. “I am very encouraged by the widespread support for the Fair School Funding Plan from constituents, educators, and lawmakers of both parties. The time has come to enact a transparent, predictable, and scalable model that Ohioans can count on for generations to come.”

Known as the “Fair School Funding Plan,” this legislation builds on three years of feedback from education professionals who do this work for a living every day of their lives and who represent Ohio’s diverse school districts: urban and rural, large and small. 

“This has been a comprehensive legislative process in the House as the original bill had nine hearings over the course of more than a year that resulted in this well-vetted school funding plan,” said Rep. Callender. “It is designed to meet the education-related needs of students of both today and into the future — it provides solutions that are transparent and justified by research and established best practices.”

The Fair School Funding Plan, designated as House Bill 1, is positioned to be a legislative priority this session as it builds on its strong, bipartisan momentum from last year where it originally passed the House by a vote of 87-9. 

Under this reintroduction of H.B. 305, the base cost includes resources for professional development for teachers that address the health, safety, social, and emotional needs of students, academic and athletic co-curricular activities, and technology used in education today.

The legislation also adjusts the distribution formula for schools with an emphasis on a more accurate measure school district capacity by using both property and income wealth to determine the local share.

In addition to components of the bill, it contains additional categories of aid aimed at creating an equitable system of funding for our schools. These categorical aid components include gifted education, special education, English Language Learners, economically disadvantaged, and transportation. Each component was modified with input from practitioners and children advocates from across Ohio.

The plan also advances funding and initiatives for career technical education in schools and Education Service Centers (ESCs).

Currently, the new bill has 62 cosponsors and awaits further committee action.