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The Suburbanite
  • Gov. Kasich school-funding plan: Why some get more

  • The state education funding plan unveiled last week by Gov. John Kasich shows eight Stark County area public school districts will see increases in state funding.

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  • The state education funding plan unveiled last week by Gov. John Kasich shows eight Stark County area public school districts will see increases in state funding. For two of those districts, that increase is less than 2 percent.
    The plan’s estimated figures, released by the governor Wednesday, show funding categories aligned to the core themes of the plan.
    Core Opportunity Aid ensures that every school district that levies 20 mills in property taxes (20 dollars for every $1,000 of assessed property value) will generate the same as a district with a $250,000 per-pupil property tax base.
    For Marlington Local Schools Superintendent Joe Knoll, that criteria  should mean          a budget increase for his district.
    But that is not the case. Marlington will receive only the state guarantee (what it received last year) for the next two years. That figure is $8.37 million.
    Knoll was in Columbus on Jan. 31 to hear Kasich present his plan, “Achievement Everywhere,” to superintendents and charter school leaders at a Buckeye Association of School Administrators meeting.
    He said he left Columbus feeling pretty good about what was coming.
    “I heard (Gov. Kasich) say, ‘This is not hard. If you’re poor, you’re going to get more. If you’re rich, you’re going to get less,’ ” Knoll remembers.
    PARITY OR CONTRADICTION?
    The preliminary figures, however, show districts in rural areas, such as his, not receiving more state aid. At the same time, districts perceived by most to be wealthy, such as Jackson and Lake, will see more state aid in the next two years.
    Barbara Mattei-Smith, the governor’s assistant policy director for education, explained the reason for these increases and what may seem like a contradiction of Kasich’s earlier words.
    “We are resetting the system,” she said, of the way state aid has been figured in the past.
    Declines in housing values, the loss of tangible personal property taxes, and higher enrollment in the wealthier districts have made them eligible for budget increases, Mattei-Smith said.
    The increase in state funding for Jackson Local Schools hits the maximum increase of 25 percent each year because the district is seeing those characteristics cited by Mattei-Smith.
    If the budget is approved, it will see $981,000 more and $1.2 million more in fiscal year 2014 and 2015 respectively.
    Jackson’s state aid is $3.9 million.
    ‘CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC’
    Perry Local Schools appears to be another of Stark’s state budget winners.
    In the budget’s first year, Perry is slated to get a 17.25 percent increase, or $2.27 million more than its past $13.2 million.
    Then in the following year, it will get another 5.2 percent increase to bring its annual state funding to $16.25 million.
    Superintendent Marty Bowe said he is not sure if the numbers are accurate, but he is “cautiously optimistic.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve heard this in the past that we’re getting more money, when in fact, we’re getting more on one side of the equation and less on the other,” he explained of the balance of state money and local property tax revenue.
    Bowe said if the money comes through, “we will be trying to get back in the black.”
    Perry, he said has not asked the community for more money via a new levy in almost 20 years, and the district has been making steady cuts.
    The district has been running in the red for about a year and a half, he said.
    GIVE AND TAKE
    For Canton City, the average property value is at $55,000, according to the district’s treasurer, Jeff Gruber.
    Canton City Schools is slated to receive a 13.79 percent increase in funding in the first year and just more than 5 percent the second, bringing it a $9 million raise in the next school year. Its state funds would be almost $79 million in 2014-15. That’s more than $13 million more than its 2012-13 allocation.
    Superintendent Adrian Allison said that would be welcomed, if the state’s new policies didn’t immediately deduct from the funding.
    “The district has not just become $9 million richer. On paper it looks like $9 million,” he said, but the spread sheets fail to show the district’s losses to for-profit charter schools (over $7 million per year now) and the governor’s plan to offer vouchers to all incoming kindergarten students in low-income households (less than $46,100 for a family of four.)
    The second year, those vouchers would be extended to first-graders.
    “The bottom line is, I want to believe there will truly be an increase in funding for Canton City Schools to increase the support needed (for preschool, special education, gifted, etc.), but until it plays out, in reality, I’m concerned,” Allison said. “I know the process, and (the plan) lacks the details that make me feel comfortable.”
    Statewide, no new money is allocated to 396 of Ohio’s 612 school districts this year and no increases happen for 382 in 2014-15.