Actions

District 10: Ohio's Board of Education candidates talk funding

News 5 is running a series on the State Board of Education candidates.
District 10: Ohio's Board of Education candidates
Posted at 6:28 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 19:17:08-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three Northeast Ohioans are vying to represent District 10 in the State Board of Education.

News 5 is running a series on the State Board of Education candidates. This is the first edition, focusing on school funding.

To learn why you should be paying attention to the Board of Education races, click or tap here.

Who is in District 10

District 10 is made up of Senate districts 21, 27 and 28. This contains the east side of Cuyahoga County, part of Geauga County and all of both Summit and Portage counties.

To find out if you are in District 10: The Sec. of State website has a handy tool called "Find my District."

Once you are there, type in your address. You should get a pop-up stating the numbers for your house, senate, congressional and school district.

If it says District 10, you can learn more about the candidates you'll be voting on below.

Candidates

Tim Miller is the Akron-based incumbent. He was appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine to complete the last two years of a four-year term. He is a former Akron Schools board member. He also leans conservative.

Tom Jackson is from Solon, one of the east side suburbs of Cleveland. He has a degree in education and is on the Solon City Schools Strategic Planning team. He leans progressive.

Cierra Lynch Shehorn is a Summit County consultant. She owns her own firm and has worked in PR and media relations. She leans conservative.

Funding

School funding has become one of the biggest concerns this election because this will impact the voters' pockets.

The Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP) has Miller's vote.

"It gives stability to the local school districts to actually plan in a manner that they can bank on that same cash flow coming to them as time goes by," he said.

The plan, which partially went into place in 2021, was supposed to change how the state delegates funding for school districts. Instead of relying on property taxes, it would switch to funding based on how many students a school has. Jackson agreed with Miller, but wants it to go a step further.

"We need to fully fund public schools on a permanent basis and eliminate these two-year cycles tied to the budget," Jackson said.

Lawmakers didn’t fully fund FSFP and have not committed to ever fully funding it.

Lynch Shehorn wasn't totally sure and wants to speak with experts to be able to make that decision.

"That's something that I would need to really know more about," she said. "We really need to keep our schools competitive, so whatever it takes to do that."

However, Jackson brings up a problem in the current FSFP, one that Lynch Shehorn mentioned.

"We need to drastically cut back the amount of funding that we are providing to non-public schools," he said. "The Ohio Constitution calls for us to fund public schools. It's the Legislature that has moved billions of dollars out of the public schools and created the problems that you see today."

Starting in the 2021 FY, lawmakers added hundreds of millions of state dollars in both direct funding and tax credits to subsidize families sending their children to private and charter schools. Critics, like Ohio Education Association, said this makes taxpayers pay for these for-profit schools and diverts money away from public education, which desperately needs it.

"I am a proponent of school choice," Lynch Shehorn said. "I believe that we should be funding our students directly, not necessarily funding the school."

Families should have the same opportunity to send their kids to private or charter as public, she added.

Click or tap here to learn more about FSFP

Miller took the middle ground, saying he isn't anti-school-choice, but that there needs to be more accountability where the money goes.

"When 80 to 90% of our kids in the state go to traditional public school, we certainly have to keep our eye on that and fund it properly," he said. "The charters, the home school, the private — I don't have a problem with that."

Jackson isn't saying that private and charter schools are bad, but he doesn't think the funding should come from the division that is supposed to go towards public schools — that have no other donors.

"We've got an over-reliance on local property taxes, and we have too much money going to unaccountable and unalterable school enterprises across the state that don't allow us to gauge performance, that lack transparency in their finances and when they run into trouble, those other schools just dump those kids back into the public schools," the progressive said.

He referenced Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, or ECOT, as one of the greatest scandals in Ohio's history. The defunct online charter school allegedly owes Ohio $117 million for public funds it improperly received during its final years of operation, according to the state auditor. It closed in 2018.

"All competition has to be regulated in the same way and that hasn't traditionally happened in the past," Miller said. "I think it's getting better.

"More people are keeping an eye on where these funds are going. When you have private entities that are the management companies for these schools, sometimes money is harder to follow."

When asked about how the law operates with private and charters, Lynch Shehorn said it was a "complex issue."

"It is something that I would like to learn more about and investigate myself and hear from the experts on it," she said. "What I believe firmly is that we should be funding the student, the money should follow the student, and that parents should have the right to send their children to the school of their choice."

Coming in the next few days, News 5 will dive into where the candidates fall on controversial issues including parent transparency on curriculum, so-called Critical Race Theory and censorship.

Want to learn the latest on where the candidates stand? News 5 is here to help. We created a 2022 midterm elections guide, which is updated daily based on the changing candidacies.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.