Thursday, June 22, 2000

Report: Ohio 20th in per-pupil spending




By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday reported that Ohio ranked 20th nationally in per-pupil spending for the 1996-97 school year and received more than half of its education funds from local sources, adding another wrinkle to the state's school funding fight.

        “If anything, the reliance on local sources such as property taxes has gone up since then,” said Bill Phillis, executive director for the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, which has sued the state over its school funding system. “This just reaffirms what we've been saying all along.”

        The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in May that the state funding system is unconstitutional because it relies too much on local property taxes. The court gave state officials a year to remedy the problem.

TRISTATE SPENDING
  Per-pupil spending and revenue sources for the school year 1996-97 (national rank in parentheses):
  OHIO
  • Per-pupil spending: $5,897 (20).
  • Per-pupil revenue from local sources: $3,632 (14).
  • Per-pupil revenue from state sources: $2,778 (31).
  • Per-pupil spending for 1998-1999 school year: $6,642 (51 percent from local, 43 percent from state).
  KENTUCKY
  • Per pupil spending: $4,515 (46).
  • Per pupil revenue from local sources: $1,704 (44).
  • Per pupil revenue from state sources: $3,630 (14).
  • Per pupil spending for 1999-2000 school year: $5,895 (breakdown of local/state sources not available)
  INDIANA
  • Per pupil spending: $6,019 (18).
  • Per pupil revenue from local sources: $3,666 (13).
  • Per pupil revenue from state sources: $3,849 (12).
  • Per pupil spending for 1999-2000 school year: $5,089 (breakdown of local/state sources not available).
        According to the census report, Ohio spent $5,897 per pupil. When it came to education revenue, $3,632 came from local sources and $2,778 came from state sources. (The amount in excess of per-pupil expenditures generally goes toward administrative educational costs at both the state and local level.)

        Spokespeople for the state education department and for Gov. Bob Taft stressed that the report relied on 3-year-old data, and that the funding ratio has changed. The Ohio per-pupil spending figure for the 1998-99 school year was $6,642, with 51 percent coming from local sources.

        “These figures in this report are for a time before our reforms went into place,” said Scott Milburn, Mr. Taft's spokesman. “We've put a lot of things into place, and we've gotten credit from the court for some of them. And we realize that we still have a lot of work to do.”

        Education officials and state legislators will meet over the summer to come up with ideas, and Mr. Taft will tour the state to solicit solutions. Mr. Taft has all but ruled out a tax hike to increase education spending.

        The report ranked Indiana 18th ($6,019) and Kentucky 46th ($4,515) for overall per-pupil spending for the 1996-97 school year.

        This past school year, however, Indiana spent $5,089 and Kentucky was at $5,895 — an increase credited to the full implementation of school reform undertaken 10 years ago and a figure that would rank Kentucky in the middle of national rankings.

        New Jersey was first for 1996-97 at $9,461 per student and Utah was last at $3,810.

       



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