What role does school funding play in academic performance? That question has driven much research, discussion and even puzzlement. On Monday, it made an appearance at the State Board of Education meeting as members reviewed the recent release of district report cards with some wondering, understandably, whether poverty receives the focus it deserves in driving the marks of certain districts and schools.

During the session, Paolo DeMaria, the state superintendent of public instruction, said something that merits attention. He noted that he recently had been talking with “one of the country’s foremost experts on educational finance.” What did the expert say? According to DeMaria, he argued “there’s absolutely no relationship between the dollars spent and the academic achievement of students.”

Unfortunately, that is just the thing many lawmakers at the Statehouse want to hear. No relationship, they conclude, no need to spend additional money.

Actually, recent analyses have found a relationship. One study, published in 2016 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, looked at states that have changed their funding formulas since 1990, many under court orders to advance equity and adequacy. The study found that states deploying additional money to their lowest-income districts experienced more academic improvement than those states that did not.

Another study, also published two years ago, examined the outcomes of roughly 15,000 people, born between 1955 and 1985. For those who were poor, a 10 percent annual increase in per-pupil spending brought higher wages, fewer in poverty as adults and six months of additional schooling.

Superintendent DeMaria emphasized to board members that much depends on how resources are spent. Here, he has a point, and it reinforces the value of devoting additional funds to poor districts, whether rural or urban.

Poverty inflicts trauma, or “toxic stress,” in the form of such things as disorder, virtual homelessness, absent parents, drug use and hunger. The additional funds support efforts to offset such harm. The tools take the shape of intervention specialists, mental health counselors, tutors, after-school programs, health care on site, longer school days and years, among other items fitting the description of wraparound services.

These carry a cost, or translate into more money than Ohio currently spends in its lowest-income districts. As the analyses indicate, that expense upfront means fewer costs in the long run.

Yet, and this is something that cannot be stressed enough, Ohio overall, according to its own data via the Expenditure per Equivalent Pupil, sees more money going to the classrooms of its wealthiest districts than its most disadvantaged. This is so even though it clearly requires more resources to educate children contending with the fallout from severe poverty.

Howard Fleeter of the Ohio Education Policy Institute crunched the numbers in the new district report cards. The lowest performers had eight times as many economically disadvantaged students as the highest performing districts. Nearly three-quarters of students in wealthy suburban districts are “prepared for success” compared to 17 percent in the major urban districts and 11 percent of black students, poverty most heavily burdening African-Americans.

That achievement gap isn’t going to close as it should under the current funding formula. Getting there requires mobilizing additional resources. In other words, money does matter.