DeRolph v. Ohio
Ohio Supreme Court
78 Ohio St. 3d 193, 1997 Ohio 84, 677 N.E.2d 733 (1997)
School district funding in Ohio came from state revenue mostly through the School Foundation Program (the program), the state statutory scheme for financing public education, local revenue mostly from locally voted property tax levies, and minimal federal funds. School districts that levied more than a certain amount of local property-tax revenue for current operating expenses received state basic aid under the program. However, the formula for calculating the amount of state basic aid had no real relation to the cost of educating a student. Although the program contained certain guarantees to ensure that a school district received the most funding possible, the guarantees represented a flaw in the system of school funding because they worked to the substantial benefit of wealthier districts. Other weaknesses in the system included (1) tax-reduction factors that made it difficult for local revenues to keep pace with inflation and required school districts to propose additional tax levies, which usually failed; (2) phantom revenue created by the foundation formula; (3) forced borrowing from the state by districts unable to meet their budgets; and (4) the program’s lack of aid expressly earmarked for capital improvements for Ohio public schools. Ohio public-school districts (plaintiffs) filed suit against state educational officials (defendants), seeking a declaration that the state failed to fulfill its promise of providing youth with free public elementary and secondary education in a thorough and efficient system, as required by the Ohio Constitution.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sweeney, J.)
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