One aspect of school funding that has always driven school districts crazy has been the fact that the state tells them they're getting a certain amount of state support, but the amount of state support districts end up getting is often far less.
How can this be so? Simple. School Choice programs. And as these School Choice programs have increased in size and scope, the relative amount of state money going to the school districts for which the money was originally designated (and districts were told to expect) has also dropped.
In the 1998-1999 school year, when the only real school choice option was open enrollment because Charter Schools and Vouchers were in their infancy, districts received 98.4% of the funding the state said they needed.
In this school year (2013-2014), that number has dipped to 82.7% -- an amount essentially unchanged from last school year. In fact, the percentage has been dropping every year except one -- 2010 when the percentage increased by .4%, and this year's .1% bump.
Today, school districts receive at the end of the day about the same amount of money they received in the 2002-2003 school year. Last year was the lowest amount since the 2001-2002 school year.
And the difference is even more striking when accounting for inflation. The three lowest net foundation payments on record occurred during the last three school years under Gov. John Kasich's two recent state budgets.
If the state had kept pace with inflation since the school year during which the last Ohio Supreme Court school funding ruling was made (2002-2003), there would be $1.5 billion more going to Ohio's school districts. Instead, they are receiving 21.2% less than that inflationary increase.
This is the result for more than $1 billion annually going out the door to Charter Schools and Vouchers, the vast majority of which perform far worse than the public school districts.
It is time to examine the quality of these programs that have left school districts operating with essentially the same revenue they had 12 years ago.
As the state continues to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into "solutions" that have provided no better results and children in traditional schools with far less revenue with which to succeed, it is imperative that state leaders take a hard look at these programs' efficacy.
For what matters is what works for kids, not what works for the adults.
Source: Ohio Department of Education SF-3, PASS, Bridge and SFPR Reports. FY2014 Report based on March #1 Payment.