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Lawsuit Plaintiff Sees Promise in School Funding Formula Proposal

Bill Phillis at the press conference where state legislators proposed a new way to fund Ohio public schools.

The man who filed the 1991 lawsuit that led to Ohio’s school funding system being ruled unconstitutional four times says a new funding formula from two state lawmakers is on the right track. But Bill Phillis's optimism comes with a caveat.

Phillis said he thinks the formula from Reps. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and John Patterson (D-Ashtabula) would satisfy the concerns raised in the DeRolph ruling. That case, originally filed by the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding, which Phillis leads, found the state too reliant on property taxes to fund public schools. Phillis said this proposed formula will work under one condition.

“The state will have to ante up more money. I don’t think there’s any question about that. Historically, that’s been the problem.”

Cupp and Patterson said they want to discuss the concept before releasing financial details on Friday. Their formula includes funding based on student-teacher ratios, more money for students in poverty and a 60-40 standard for the district’s share of funding based on property value and income. 

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.