Legislators ask for increased public school funding in next appropriations bill

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The members of the Democratic caucus of the Ohio Legislature are calling on their U.S. Congress counterparts to bring more funding to the state’s public school systems.

In a letter sent this week to the Ohio Congressional Delegation, the state legislators asked that U.S. representatives and senators push for education funding in the next appropriations bill related to COVID-19. 

In the letter, state legislators mention the $775 million budget cuts Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said were required to compensate for coronavirus losses. That included $300 million in public schools, $55 million in line item cuts, and $110 million coming from colleges and universities. $76 million of that cut comes from an across-the-board 3.8% cut to the state share of instruction.

“These cuts are already causing immense shortfalls for public schools, despite their phenomenal efforts to continue to feed and educate our children,” the letter stated.

The letter asks that Congress increase the Education Stabilization Fund investment by $100 billion for K-12 education. In March, $2 trillion in federal CARES Act funding was signed into law, with $30.75 billion for the stabilization fund.

“These funds need to be accountable, but as flexible as possible, so each district and community can fill budget holes, continue to provide services, and expand them based on their unique needs during these challenging times,” the legislators wrote in the letter.

Comprehensive services will be needed as in-person learning becomes a possibility in the state, as well, legislators said. With that in mind, additional funds are needed for Title I and students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for summer school and after-school programs. 

The group praised passage of the Heroes Act, which would bring Ohio an estimated $16 billion over two years, if passed by the Senate.

“That money would support state and local government, K-12 and higher education as well as health care providers,” according to the legislators.

The letter was signed by 44 Democratic legislators, including House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron; and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights.