The House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee met four days this week accepting hours of testimony from education groups. OAGC provided testimony on April 11. This testimony can be found at http://www.oagc.com/files/SheldonTestimony_Final_4.11.19.pdf. The main OAGC recommendations were suggested fixes to the gifted formula calculation in the Fair School Funding plan along with recommendations regarding gifted funding accountability and service transparency, ESC funding, and the establishment of a gifted rural taskforce. OAGC asked for the latter proposals to be considered regardless of the school funding formula adopted. Committee members had questions about why districts were not spending all state gifted funding on gifted students, how much gifted funding was provided to ESCs, and whether districts adequately understood how to code gifted expenditures.
While most education groups spoke positively about the Fair School Funding plan, they noted that there was a subset of poor districts that would not benefit from the plan. Many also wondered about the timeline for the phase-in. Some also questioned how special education and other categorical areas would be funding. The education management associations indicated that ESCs needed more funding than the plan would currently allocate.
With public testimony complete, the House will now deliberate behind the scenes. The goal is to adjust the Fair School Funding plan and include it in a sub bill that would be introduced after the General Assembly Spring break, which ends April 29. Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, did open the door to a delay in adopting the Fair School Funding. He stated on April 10ththat it was such an important issue, it might take the rest of the General Assembly to get it right. The House is expected to pass a budget sub bill the first week of May.
In the meantime, the Ohio Senate will begin budget deliberations before the House has completed its work. This is a typical occurrence when a new governor comes into office and the budget process is condensed. The Senate Finance Primary and Secondary Subcommittee will hear testimony from the state superintendent and other agencies the week of April 22nd.