School board supports push for new funding plan

TROY — On Monday, the Troy City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved to endorse House Bill 1 or “Fair School Funding Plan” legislation for school funding reform.

President Tom Kleptz said, “We all know school funding in Ohio …”

“Stinks,” said board member Doug Trostle, before Kleptz could finish with “a nicer word.”

Kleptz said, “If our legislators would ever get together and figure out a way to fairly fund it and give us the opportunity to plan and budget instead of giving and taking away, passing mandates that don’t get paid for or supported …”

Board member Michael Ham chimed in, stating, “That would require common sense.”

Superintendent Chris Piper went over the history of Ohio’s education funding being unconstitutional.

“This resolution is for our senators to take action after 24 years,” Piper said.

Beginning in 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled four times that Ohio’s education funding is unconstitutional. Over the years, legislature has made some changes to the way the state pays for schools but hasn’t enacted any sweeping reform.

“The reason you are being asked to pass this resolution is that the past two to three years, there’s been a bipartisan workgroup working on this problem — it is a problem,” said Piper, who said the major work being focused on is answering the question of how much it costs to educate the average child in Ohio.

Board member Michael Ham made the comment “Define average child.” Piper said the new formula takes into account gifted, special needs, and other educational support and seeks to address students’ “wide variety of needs.”

“They’ve worked with school treasurers, superintendents and business people and public officials for two to three years to develop this funding formula,” Piper said.

According to reports, the current system tries to equalize education for all Ohio children, regardless of how rich or poor their community is, by placing most districts into one of two categories: Those that are guaranteed state funding because their local property taxes aren’t sufficient to educate kids and those with higher property values that are capped in the amount of state funding they receive. Troy City Schools is capped, Piper said.

A state-wide campaign to explain the new “Fair School Funding Plan” was brought to a halt due to COVID-19 last spring, Piper said. One of the former bill’s sponsors is now Speaker of the House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and efforts to pass the new House Bill 1 and encourage the Senate to take up the bill are underway.

The new bill, House Bill 1, is similar to the former House Bill 305 except for some technical changes and could possibly be part of the next biannual state budget. According to legislation records, Rep. Jena Powell (R-80) was one of nine Republican House members who voted No on HB 305. Both Powell and Senator Steve Huffman have been proponents for School Choice. Ohio’s EdChoice or School Choice program provides state-funded “scholarships” up to $6,000 for students to attend private schools if they qualify in failing districts based on state report card data, which the private schools are not required to take.

The Ohio Senate has commissioned its own education funding group. According to reports, the Senate seeks to add $2 billion to K-12 schools.

The board resolution will be sent to Ohio Senators including Miami County’s Senator Dr. Steve Huffman and Gov. Mike DeWine.

Other action items included:

• Accept the lowest and best bid of $193,785 from Maxim Roofing for Troy High School’s partial roof replace project. The estimate was $300,000. Five bids were received ranging from Maxim’s low bid up to $287,740.

• Resolution to refinance $3.99 million of the 2004 Troy High School addition and other building improvements around the district. The refinance of the remaining balance of the bond is expected to save $425,000 with 2.1 percent interest. Part of the bond will retire in 2028 and the other in 2032.

• Kids Read Now CEO Leib Lurie presented a report on the non-profit reading organization that helps prevent “summer slide.” The organization provides books to students and has grown to serve 84,000 children in 28 states.