Friday, February 3, 2017

Ohio Budget Hammers Poor, Rural School Districts

I don't know what it is about Ohio's rural school districts, but it really looks like Gov. John Kasich has it out for them. In the latest batch of funding estimates for school districts, a whopping 83% of Ohio's rural school districts will receive less money in the 2018-2019 school year than they have received this school year. And nearly 80% of the poorest of those districts get cut.

Why is this a problem? Because poor, rural school districts simply can't raise local revenue at the rates of Ohio's wealthiest or biggest school districts. So even a small dollar cut in Noble Local is a monster cut to them because they can't raise enough local revenue to cover their 5.6% cut in state funding they're set to receive under Kasich's budget.

As you can see, Ohio's rural districts are paying for increases in Ohio's more urban and suburban locales. This is a function of Kasich's decision to wind down the "guarantee" -- a calculation done to offset funding losses due to declining enrollment.

Here's the problem: The loss in enrollment does not necessarily mean there's less service need. For example, if I have a district that has 100 students that cost $10,000 per pupil to educate and I lose 10% of those students, I'm still going to need the same number of teachers, custodians, buses, etc. But under Kasich, I will have $50,000 fewer state dollars with which to educate those students. That's the equivalent of a teacher.

I will be doing further analysis of these data in the coming days and weeks. But suffice it to say, Gov. John Kasich is taking state money from our poorest, rural school districts and using it to give small to moderate increases in our urban areas.

Oh, and all these cuts don't include the additional 1/3 loss in tangible personal property tax reimbursements Kasich's calling for in this budget. So chances are, far more than the 337 districts who get less money in two years will end up losing out. So stay tuned...

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