NEW PARIS — New Paris Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau held a legislative meeting on Friday, April 5. Speakers included Representative J. Todd Smith and Senator Stephen Huffman.
Topics discussed included:
•School funding and a proposed formula which would seek to “improve” funding for schools.
National Trail Superintendent Bob Fischer asked both speakers what their opinions on the Cupp, Patterson School Funding Proposal.
“The ways we fund schools is, as we all have heard many times, unconstitutional, but we are so used to that. The fact that we have to go to our communities and ask for money. It is taking dollars away from tax payers. With the current Cupp, Patterson report that is out there, I will tell you that for me that is a great first step,” Fischer said.
“The way it is currently done is on a per student basis, but the school only receives a portion of that per student basis. For example, if it is $6,000 to educate that student, as a district you are only getting a percentage of that based on your wealth as a school district. Here at National Trail, we only get to see sometimes up to 45 percent of that money. We are only receiving approximately $3,000 of that.
“I’m curious of your standpoint. I’m curious to hear what is your opinion on Cupp Patterson.”
Senator Huffman responded, “It is currently in the House and I have dug deep into it, but I think the world of Bob Cupp. It’s not going to be perfect. National Trail may benefit, but there are other people who are not going to benefit.”
Representative Smith added, “No matter where it comes from, it is tax money. People say, ‘We’re having to pay for it here, the State needs to pay for it.’ Guess where the State gets its money from? It’s you. Either way, it’s an arbitrary number and that is what Cupp Patterson is trying to do.
“It is an arbitrary system to begin with. We talk about the locals have to pay, you also pay what comes from the State. The local people will be funding the majority of the kid. Parts of the Cupp Patterson plan that I’ve seen, I understand what they’re trying to do. I need to see final numbers that are involved.”
•The inclusion of religion in public schools.
New Paris Council Member Mary Jane Thomas brought up prayer in school and “giving kids an opportunity” to have an “education of the Bible.” She asked if that was possible for the area, noting it might improve “mental health issues” in the school.
Huffman responded, it is possible and he has seen it done in public schools in the State of Ohio.
“I’m for any of that, but it is a fine line that you have to walk,” Smith said. “What we see with Separation of Church and State is that people lean too far and are antagonistic towards religion. You can’t do that either. We have to step in and say, ‘We’re not saying you’re promoting religion, but neither are you allowed to attack it.’”
•How to grow businesses in New Paris and bring business to the area.
Representative Smith talked about opportunities to get money out into the community and the budget surplus.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH