School officials question governor's funding plan

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- While Gov. John Kasich promised no school district would lose money under his proposal for state school funding, Hudson school officials say they will lose $1 million in 2014 because the governor's figures for 2013 are wrong.

The Total Achievement Everywhere report -- provided by the governor's office -- shows the Hudson City School District will receive $9.6 million in state funding in 2013 and $9.6 million in 2014 and 2015, based on an enrollment of 4,567 students.

Hudson school officials say the dollar amount for 2013 is more than $1 million off, and student enrollment is off by more than 100 students.

Hudson is scheduled to receive $10.7 million in state funding in 2013 and has an enrollment of 4,681 students, according to Sheryl Sheatzley, Hudson Schools communications manager.

"Everyone is asking where they [state] got this number," Hudson Schools Treasurer Kathryn Sines said. "It doesn't make sense."

"Kasich said we wouldn't lose money."

The proposal will be part of Kasich's biennium budget bill.

In general, under the new formula, the state will distribute funding to schools based on what a 20-mill levy would generate in a district with property valuations of $250,000 per students. In the lowest wealth districts, that valuation is about $50,000, while two dozen districts have valuations of more than $250,000. Hudson has a valuation of $199,411 in 2014 and $195,143 in 2015.

The state also will provide additional "targeted assistance" to schools based on the income levels of their residents, meaning poorer districts would receive more state assistance than wealthier ones.

"I know many of you were worried that there were going to be significant cuts," Kasich said. "There's mostly increases. No one's going to lose under this proposal."

Kasich opted to leave funding guarantees in place, ensuring no district would receive less in the next two years than in the current one. But he warned that the guarantees are not sustainable over time.

The information the school administration has seen on the state's spreadsheet does not coincide with the numbers the district has seen in the past, Sheatzley said.

The state total of $9.6 million for 2014 funding is based on the sum of $4.62 million for core opportunity aid; $1.69 million for students with disabilities; $18,757 for English language learners; $13,612 for economically disadvantaged students; $228,367 for gifted and talented students; and $3 million guaranteed funds, according to the office of Gov. Kasich..

The distribution of funds for 2015 is radically different, with money for students with disabilities cut from $1.69 million to $19,817, and money for English language learners hiked from $18,757 to $1.8 million.

The 2015 fund distribution also shows $5 million for core opportunity aid; $13,612 for economically disadvantaged students; $228,367 for gifted and talented students; and $2.5 million guaranteed funds.

"Kasich said school districts wouldn't lose money but it's about $1 million less than what we [Hudson] currently receive," Sheatzley said.

Many school districts are asking questions about the numbers, which don't match what school districts are currently receiving, Sheatzley said.

Twinsburg, for example, is scheduled to receive a 104 percent increase in state funding -- from $2.7 million to $5.46 million (see the chart on Page 4).

"I'm not celebrating it because I don't think it's real," Twinsburg Schools Superintendent Kathryn Powers said Feb. 6. "I think 'perplexed' is the word."

"If we can't understand this, and we live and breathe this stuff, I don't know how anyone else is expected to understand," said Twinsburg Schools Treasurer Martin Aho.

Each district will have to provide current information and ask the state to look at the numbers.

"It can be a slow process, but it needs to be done," Sheatzley said.

The Hudson School District has notified the state organizations -- the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (superintendents), the Ohio School Boards Association, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials -- to find out about the beginning number and where it came from, Sines said.

"Just looking at the raw numbers, we're losing money," Sines said.

The report can viewed at http://jobsbudget.ohio.gov/documents/Preliminary-District.pdf.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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