If state lawmakers can't agree on a school funding plan by June 30, the Westerville Board of Education may consider adopting a temporary budget for the 2009-10 school year.

If state lawmakers can't agree on a school funding plan by June 30, the Westerville Board of Education may consider adopting a temporary budget for the 2009-10 school year.

District treasurer Scott Gooding offered that option after he and Superintendent Dan Good tried during Monday's board meeting to explain how Westerville schools might be affected by House Bill 1, a funding plan introduced Feb. 23 in response to Gov. Ted Strickland's proposals on how Ohio should pay for public education. At this point, they said, Westerville school officials have to do the same thing as their counterparts throughout Ohio: Wait and see.

Gooding said H.B. 1 takes a research and evidence-based approach to school funding, but it's too soon for districts to do much planning "in response to this particular bill."

Although basing future plans on a school funding proposal that's bound to change isn't much of an option, Good said the district has been taking another approach to the situation -- taking part in the process.

"We have been meeting with the legislature weekly; we've been actively involved in the discussion," Good said.

"We've been involved every step of the way," Gooding said.

Good added that Westerville administrators, along with many other school administrators from central Ohio, are providing input on the provisions of the legislation. Good and Gooding have been meeting primarily with 19th District Rep. Marian Harris and 20th District Rep. Nancy Garland, both Democrats.

Some of those meetings have revolved around how to accurately articulate the state's plans to the community, while others have been concerned with what members of the state legislature want education in Ohio to look like, Gooding added.

"In my experience, this has been the most interactive dialogue we've had (over school funding)," he said.

As H.B. 1 currently stands, Westerville would see a drop in the amount of money it would get from the state. Under the House proposal, each district is assigned an index number between 0.75 and 1.65, with higher numbers for poorer districts. This was a change from the plan presented by Gov. Strickland, who proposed a smaller range of 0.9 to 1.65.

The funding formula multiplies that number by a teacher salary figure of $56,902. The House's index also places more weight on property values than on income within a district.

Based on figures now in H.B. 1, Westerville would rank as the sixth most adversely affected district in the state. Under the current House Democrat plan, Westerville would receive $96,965,126, which is $9,080,231 less than Gov. Ted Strickland's fully funded proposal would provide.

However, H.B. 1 is unlikely to emerge unchanged once it is forwarded to the Ohio Senate, Gooding said.

"We have already been hearing comments that (the bill) might be dead on arrival when it reaches the Senate," he said.

Good said one thing has been refreshing during the process: the emphasis on students instead of dollars.

"At least what's being discussed is what's good for the students. These (discussions) have been the most student-centric I've participated in in the last three decades, and that's encouraging," Good said.

lrice@thisweeknews.com