Taking money from schools robs our future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

Tribune staff

Our children are our most important investment for the future. Building financial support to promote excellence in our schools is a necessity, not an option.

When Dr. Susan Tave Zelman spoke at Dawson-Bryant High School Tuesday, her message was clear - funding of Ohio's

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schools must increase, not decrease. Three times since the DeRolph lawsuit was filed more than a decade ago, the Ohio Supreme Court has declared that the state relies too much on property taxes to fund public schools, thereby creating an

unfair system. However, a cash-strapped state may have problems complying with the high court's ruling.

Last month, Gov. Bob Taft ordered $100 million in cuts to state spending on education to help balance the budget. The amount includes $91 million from the basic aid that the state guarantees districts for each student.

The DeRolph IV decision, however, indicates that funding for education cannot be cut because of a shortfall in the state budget.

"We realize that the General Assembly cannot spend money it does not have," Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote at the time of the decision last December. "Nevertheless, we reiterate that the constitutional mandate must be met. The Constitution protects us whether the state is flush or destitute."

Cutting funding for education will do nothing more than lead to more state budget woes in the future. If companies build their plants elsewhere because of a lack of sufficient schools, we lose jobs and infrastructure. If our students move away after they graduate because of a lack of jobs in Ohio, we lose population.

These are just a few ways not adequately funding education can hurt Ohio in both the short- and long-term. Ignoring the DeRolph decision will only complicate matters.

Taking money away from our schools is, in essence, robbing our future. Until the state can adequately fund all school districts, we can expect budget shortfalls for many years to come.