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Give all of Ohio’s kids a fair shot

Ohio lawmakers recently received a proposal that would divide approximately $600 million among the 38 school districts in Ohio’s 18 Appalachian counties.

State Reps. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, and Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, introduced the Accelerated Appalachian School Building Assistance Program as a way to further support the more than 58,000 students in those school districts, according to a report by The Columbus Dispatch.

“For too long, Ohio has prioritized investment in students from cities over students in rural areas,” Edwards said. “The introduction of this legislation sends a message to leaders in Columbus that it is time we deliver equitable school facility investment to Appalachian Ohio.”

He’s right, of course, though the reality is it is far past time for Ohio lawmakers to come up with an equitable and constitutional funding formula for all schools. It has been three decades since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the funding system based on property values was unconstitutional.

Still, we know rural districts are often ignored in Columbus while also incurring costs (student transportation, for example) that do not hamper the more urban districts.

Imagine the good it would do for Ohio if students in its Appalachian counties were receiving the kind of support that could propel them into what we are being assured will be a miraculously booming economy. Imagine how far behind they will remain if the state continues to ignore them.

All these kids need is a fair shot. They’ve not been given one, yet.

Lawmakers have a chance to start now.

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