By Wayne Gates –
Proposed funding for local school districts has been released by Ohio Governor John Kasich as part of Ohio’s next two year budget.
The biggest local impact in the numbers is to the Ripley Union Lewis Huntington School District.
The proposed funding for the RULH district for the 2017 state fiscal year (July 1, 2017-July 1 2018) is $7,208,474.67. Funding for FY 2018 is $6,844,952.67, a reduction of $363,522 or five percent of the total district budget.
“I’m concerned about that level of a budget reduction if it happens and I hope the legislature realizes the negative effect it would have on our district,” said RULH Superintendent Linda Naylor.
Fayetteville-Perry is also looking at a reduction in funding in FY 2018. The proposed funding for FY 2017 is $4,622,525.79, followed by $4,497,161.22 in FY 2018. The difference is a reduction of $125,365 or 2.7 percent.
The Eastern and Western Brown school districts will also technically lose funds in FY 2018 under the proposal, but the difference is minimal.
Eastern is proposed to get $7,609,647.02 in FY 2017 and $7,608,302.79 in FY 2018, a reduction of $1,344.00.
Western Brown is set to receive $24,771,711.74 in FY 2017 and $24,764,883.47 in FY 2018, a reduction of $6,828.00.
The Georgetown district will receive an increase in the proposed two year budget. For FY 2017, the district is set to receive $6,837,642.48 and $6,984,182.15 is set aside for FY 2018, an increase of $146,540.00 or 2.1 percent.
Local superintendents and legislators alike have all cautioned not to make too much of these early budget numbers.
“It’s very early. There will be a lot of people going to Columbus to plead their case for their school district,” said Georgetown Superinten-dent Christopher Burrows.
State Representative Doug Green said “I do not wish to comment on the Governor’s proposal at this time. I am confident the bill passed out of the house will be different.”
State Senator Joe Uecker also expects things to change.
“Historically there has been a lot tweaking of the numbers in the house and senate,” Uecker said.
“It’s kind of hard to get excited about these numbers, because rest assured they are going to change.”
The senator did address some of the philosophy behind how school budgets are determined in Ohio.
“The formula has always taken the daily student count into consideration as well as the school district’s ability to raise funds,” Uecker said.
In other words, districts with declining enrollment can expect to see a reduction in funding.
“If you are getting more money when you have more students, shouldn’t you get less money when you have fewer students?”, asked Uecker.
Burrows said that the increase of students in his district may have something to do with the proposed funding increase in FY 2018.
“The thing that speaks well for is that we have gained in enrollment. They are taking that into consideration more than ever. They are looking at where people’s numbers are in terms of enrollment.”
Both Uecker and Burrows said that school districts are now entering an era where how they are perceived by the public can affect their bottom lines.
“Schools that have a great reputation end up getting a lot of other district’s children during open enrollment. They show a good product with good outcomes and parents from other school districts recognize that and want to send their kids there,” said Uecker.
“If you are a school district with declining enrollment, you better start asking yourself where these kids are going, why and what can you do to retain them. The actions of school choice have acted to improve the school system throughout Ohio.”
Burrows said that consistent educational quality and a good relationship with the public is the key to budgetary success.
“Levies are won day to day, not at the time they are on the ballot. It’s the same way for enrollment. Enrollment increases because of your day to day actions, not from a one month marketing blitz.” Burrows said.
“I tell our teachers every time I get in front of them not to worry about funding or what happens in Columbus because if you make magic happen behind your doors every single day, parents and students will want to be here.”
The biannual state budget will be debated in the Ohio house and senate for the next few months. It is due to be signed into law in late June and to take effect July 1.