Education consultant questions proposed new formula

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A Denver-based national expert in education funding who helped Ohio determine five years ago the cost of an adequate education now says a plan to fund schools based on average monthly attendance threatens to underfund schools.
The state had agreed that a minimum 93 percent attendance rate is acceptable under the school funding and academic accountability formulas in place now.
But the author of a new formula, state Rep. Jon Husted,
R-Kettering, said a fairer approach would be to encourage nothing less than 100 percent attendance.
John Augenblick, a national expert who helped Ohio define the cost of an adequate education, said the Husted plan appears to defy logic and the Ohio Supreme Court.
"It's not in the spirit of all the work done years ago,"
Augenblick said from his Denver office as president of Augenblick & Myers, a consulting firm.
Augenblick was hired after the Ohio Supreme Court said the
state's school funding was unconstitutional.
Husted said his mission as chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee is to balance the budget without raising taxes.
Husted has said the plan would provide in the fiscal year
beginning July 1 a 1 percent increase and the following year a 3 percent decrease.
The new funding formula has several new provisions that reduce the amount of money schools would get, compared with the amount they would receive under the existing formula. An Akron Beacon Journal analysis on Sunday shows that the plan cuts school basic aid by about 5 percent.
Under the proposed new attendance formula, schools would report their attendance rates once a month, and the state would adjust the next month's state aid.
Husted said the attendance plan is an outgrowth of public
schools complaining about charter schools getting state aid for students who weren't in school.
Senate President Doug White has said he's still analyzing the Husted plan but likens it to proposals to stop reimbursing nursing homes for empty beds.
Some school administrators, such as Marc Crail, superintendent of Kent schools, wish state officials would be straightforward about funding policy.
"I think everybody realizes the (budget) problems the state
has," Crail said. "I just wish they would be honest about it. If this is our share (of the reductions), say it."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)