State Reps. Bob Cupp and John Patterson have not quit. The Lima Republican and Jefferson Democrat have listened to critics and returned with improvements of their promising framework for overhauling the way the state funds public schools. The two unveiled the latest version, House Bill 305, in June, and now, as state lawmakers prepare to take up the measure in the fall, they have received an analysis that serves well to frame discussion.

Howard Fleeter of the Ohio Education Policy Institute has issued an assessment of the proposal. This longtime and respected student of school funding applauds the legislation for many advances. That includes a more effective, input-driven approach to establishing the base cost of educating students. That is no small gain, the last such effort going back to the evidence-based model put forward by Ted Strickland during his time as governor.

The legislation does a much better job of determining the state and local shares of funding. It increases the resources directed to economically disadvantaged students. It removes a toxic aspect of the formula, the money for charter schools deducted from the sum for traditional public schools. Under the bill, charter schools would be funded directly by the legislature.

These and other elements merit the cheers they have received. Yet, as Fleeter explains, there remains a crucial shortcoming to address. The proposed formula doesn’t do enough to close the equity gap between the wealthiest districts and the poorest districts, both urban and rural. Fleeter notes that if fully funded next year, the proposed formula would result in total funding of $11,307 per pupil for the wealthiest one-fifth of districts. The poorest one-fifth would see $9,747 per pupil.

That amounts to closing the current gap by a mere $23, according to Fleeter.

It is key for the state to do better. That gap represents the failure to offer in many poor districts anything close to the same educational opportunities. It also points to falling short of what Gov. Mike DeWine often cites, research showing it takes 30 percent more in funding to educate an economically disadvantaged student.

Fleeter highlights a telling figure, generated by the state, in arriving at that gap of $11,307 versus $9,747. It is the “expenditure per equivalent pupil,” which compares spending across districts to reflect student needs, “weighting” for such things as poverty to provide an apples-to-apples comparison of the resources available in the classroom.

On Thursday, Education Week inadvertently reinforced the Fleeter analysis. The national trade magazine released its annual Quality Counts report, grading states on their educational performance. Ohio received a “C” overall, landing 21st among the states. Where does Ohio need help? The report ranked the state 48th for the difference in academic achievement between poor students and their wealthier counterparts and 39th for the difference in funding between poor districts and wealthier districts.

A state needing to develop, retain and attract talent as part of navigating a prolonged and difficult economic transition cannot afford such numbers. Which is why it is important for Robert Cupp, John Patterson and their allies to succeed in remaking the school funding formula. This is a rare opportunity, marked by a coming together of good ideas and wider political understanding, a chance for Ohio to get right something that has proved elusive since the DeRolph lawsuit started — nearly three decades ago.

What Howard Fleeter makes clear is that the state won’t get there until it delivers real equity to the school funding formula. That belongs as the first priority for lawmakers as they consider House Bill 305. They can seize the opening to complete the achievement and advance Ohio in a sustained way.