Kasich Touts School Plan

CINCINNATI (AP) – Gov. John Kasich told educators in southwest Ohio on Friday his new school-funding plan is not about politics but making sure every child in the state has an equal opportunity to compete and succeed.

A day after he unveiled his plan, Kasich told educational leaders who gathered at Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati that past political decisions have resulted in funding disparities. He said playing politics with resources designed to help children learn and succeed is “flat out wrong” and current financial disparities between districts must be corrected.

“When you may have $700 behind one child and $14,000 behind another one, that’s not an acceptable goal,” Kasich said.

Kasich’s proposal would bring all schools up to the tax base level of a district with $250,000 in property value per student to ease wide disparities in millage revenues from local levies.

The Republican governor’s $15.1 billion, two-year plan boosts K-12 spending by $1.2 billion over the current budget cycle. It also establishes a $300 million fund to pay for competitive innovation and efficiency grants among other proposals.

Kasich has guaranteed no funding cuts for the next two years but the exact repercussions of the plan beyond that remain unclear – particularly for districts that may have to wean themselves off state funding that will move elsewhere.

Some changes will have to be made to funding guarantees, Kasich said, particularly in the minds of legislators who don’t want to see their schools get less money. Changing guarantees this time around “would have created chaos in the schools,” he said, but the current system isn’t sustainable.

Even those expressing more enthusiasm said they are still awaiting the release next week of information on how much each district will receive under the plan.

The debate over the plan that will affect Ohio’s 613 school districts and 353 charter schools is expected to continue for months.