The public schools enroll 1,724,000 students: 73% White, 16% African American, and 5% Latino, with 44% living in poverty and 2% learning English, and spends $11,276 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“The General Assembly shall make such provisions, by taxation, or otherwise, as, with the income arising from the school trust fund, will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state; but no religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever have any exclusive right to, or control of, any part of the school funds of this state.” Oh. Const. art. VI § 2.
In 1923, in Miller v. Korns, the Ohio Supreme Court interpreted the education article of the constitution in this way: “A thorough system could not mean one in which part or any number of the school districts of the state were starved for funds. An efficient system could not mean one in which part or any number of the school districts of the state lacked teachers, buildings, or equipment.”
In 1997, in DeRolph v. State, the Ohio Supreme Court declared the State’s school funding system unconstitutional, specifically citing four major flaws in the system, including insufficient state funding for school facilities. The Court wrote: “A system without basic instructional materials and supplies can hardly constitute a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state as mandated by our Constitution.”
In a later decision, the Court also wrote: “A thorough system means that each and every school district has enough funds to operate. An efficient system is one in which each and every school district in the state has an ample number of teachers, sound buildings that are in compliance with state fire and building codes, and equipment sufficient for all students to be afforded an educational opportunity.”
State reform efforts increased operational funding for schools and allocated $5 billion to improve facilities, but failed to remedy inequities in the State’s funding formula.
In 2003, in State v. Lewis, the Ohio Supreme Court denied plaintiffs’ final attempt to obtain a remedial order for the violation identified in DeRolph, noting that although the system was still unconstitutional, it was the Legislature’s duty to enact a remedy.