Monday, August 20, 2001

Poll: Majority of Ohioans say school funding inefficient

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A majority of Ohioans believe state officials have not developed a thorough and efficient system of funding education, according to an Ohio State University poll.

        The Buckeye State Poll is the first of its type since the Supreme Court heard arguments two months ago on whether the state's latest school-funding plan meets the constitutional standard.

        The court, which declared the system unconstitutional by 4-3 votes in 1997 and 2000, has yet to make a ruling.

        The poll shows 56 percent of Ohioans do not believe lawmakers have developed an efficient plan, vs. 35 percent who said the plan was suitable.

        The poll of 793 randomly selected Ohio adults was conducted by telephone from July 5 through Aug. 12. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

        It was conducted by the Ohio State University College of Social and Behavioral Sciences' Center for Survey Research.

        “I am upset over the school funding,” said poll participant Faye Payton, 70, who lives near Ironton in southeastern Ohio, one of the state's poorer districts. “I don't see that that's being done right.”

        Although the state is spending more than $1 million a day building schools and has increased operating money by $1.4 billion during the next two years, she doesn't think the needs of many districts are being met.

        “I just don't think it's fair,” she said.

        She's among three-fourths of poll respondents who gave Gov. Bob Taft and the legislature a grade of C or worse for their approach to Ohio's school-funding problem. Jean Prokes, 45, of the Cleveland suburb of Bay Village, said Mr. Taft has not done much for education in Ohio.

        “I'm not really impressed,” she said. “He talks about being an advocate for good schools, but I don't really see anything happening.”

        Mr. Taft and other state officials have said that if the Supreme Court again rejects the state's school-funding plan, a tax increase will be the only way to appease the justices.

        Most Ohioans would support an increase if the money goes for schools, the poll indicates.


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