Official defends his school arithmetic

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

NEW LEXINGTON, O. — On the math and minutia-packed fourth day of hearings here yesterday, attorneys for a group of school districts tried to poke holes in the work of the man Ohio hired to fix its school-funding system.

Denver-based consultant John Augenblick spent his second day on the stand defending how he calculated how much the state will have to pay for its schools.

Attorney Nicholas Pittner took issue with Mr. Augenblick’s statement that he had “eyeballed” a graph to decide which school districts to include in his analysis.

“Are you aware of any literature that says that when you are making decisions affecting 1.8 million children, you can just eyeball a chart?” Mr. Pittner said.

Mr. Pittner represents the coalition of school districts who won a 1994 lawsuit against the state that declared the way Ohio funds its public schools unconstitutional.

Perry County Common Pleas Judge Linton Lewis, who ruled in that case, is holding the hearings to determine if the state has done enough to make the system fair.

Mr. Pittner criticized the numbers Mr. Augenblick used for special education, transportation, and other variables included in his recommendations to the state.

Mr. Augenblick responded to several of the attorney’s questions by saying they were “irrelevant” to what he was hired to do: calculate the per-pupil funding levels that should be guaranteed.

After Mr. Augenblick stepped down from the witness box, the afternoon was given to Randy Fischer, executive director of the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

Mr. Fischer said state spending on school buildings has gone up 4,000 per cent in this decade.