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TAFT SOLICITS SCHOOL FUNDING INPUT

Governor Taft met with education officials in Toledo yesterday to hear how the state school-funding crisis is affecting local schools.

He listened to suggestions about how to address the problem, offering his observations along the way.

"Clearly this is the most important issue facing the state of Ohio - to make sure that all our children are well-educated and prepared to succeed in today's world," he said. "We all know that it takes more than just dollars to have good schools. If you are going to have good schools, you have to have good school buildings that are good places to learn."

Mr. Taft and the state Legislature are wrestling with the aftermath of a March, 1997, state Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional the method the state uses to fund its public schools.

The court subsequently acknowledged some progress, but ruled that legislative remedies have fallen short of its constitutional standard, prodding lawmakers to do more to properly fund schools.

"The latest Supreme Court decision says we are making significant progress, especially in the area of school building assistance and also in terms of our new school operating formula. But that decision identified a number of issues that are still outstanding and that is why we are here today - to address those issues," Governor Taft said. "We want to leave no stone unturned in looking for innovative solutions and ideas ... to further improve our schools."

Dr. Eugene Sanders, the incoming superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, told the governor that fixing decrepit schools is an important concern. "We want to provide a quality education for our students. In order to do that, having strong facilities is an important part."

The state plans to use billions of dollars from money it is receiving from a legal settlement with tobacco companies to pay for school building repairs. Toledo would receive about $290 million from that settlement, but must put up $190 million of its own.

Pete Silverman, a Toledo school board member, said the local district would be better off if it didn't have to put up so much local money.

The hearing, held at the Crystal Ellis Conference Center, 3301 Upton Ave., was the third in a series the governor said he wants to hold, each in a different region of the state.
"Hopefully, this will be one more piece of the puzzle," state Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) said hearings.

Also at the meeting were state Sen. Bob Latta, (R., Bowling Green); state reps. Jim Mettler (R., Toledo) and Jeanine Perry (D., Toledo); Democrat Teresa Fedor, who is challenging Mr. Mettler for his seat, and Republican John Garcia, who is challenging Ms. Perry.

Mr. Taft visited the home of Doug Ambrey and Kim Ruffin at 438 West Crawford Ave., which had thousands of dollars in damage when the basement was flooded in a recent rainstorm. President Clinton declared the county a disaster area.

All content © 2000 THE BLADE, TOLEDO, OHIO and may not be republished without permission.

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© Copyright 2008 State Representative Lynn Olman. All rights reserved.

 

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