Governor’s education budget attacked
An article in the Columbus Dispatch on March 8, outlined the strong opposition to the way education dollars are allocated in the 2018-2019 budget proposed by Governor John Kasich. Any school district that uses school buses will be negatively impacted by a reduction in money provided for transportation. Furthermore, numerous opposition groups again testified to the Ohio House subcommittee on education as to the inequitable way schools are funded in Ohio. According to these groups the state formula penalizes rural districts in favor of urban areas. In addition, charter schools in the largest cities receive extra dollars based on the populations they serve.
One of the groups protesting the governor’s plan, the State Association of School Boards, argued that the state has “no method in place for determining the cost of educating students.” Representatives from the Alliance for High Quality Education complained that the per pupil base funding is no longer adequate and needs to be changed. However, the chair of the committee, Rep. Robert Cupp, R-Lima is quoted as saying, “That is just a reflection of reality this year.”
Ironically, Adrian Allison, co-chair of the Urban Eight, a coalition of Ohio’s eight largest cities, also complained to the committee that the Dayton City Schools has to transport students to 31 different charter and private schools, in addition to the school district’s 30 buildings. The fact that Dayton has so many charter schools that are supported by State funds, not local property tax dollars is not mentioned in Allison’s testimony. The irony is that the local school district in Dayton is footing the bill for the increased transportation costs incurred busing children to charter schools.
In a related development on March 8, the Lorain City School district received a letter from state superintendent, Paola DeMaria, advising that the district must, within 30 days, appoint an Academic Distress Commission. The commission will then appoint a CEO for the school district. The CEO will be responsible for “expanding high quality school-choice options in the school district.” Readers need to know that “school-choice options” is code for the expansion of charter schools.
As school districts across the state are slated for significant cuts, local school boards will once again struggle to avoid cuts to programs and services or go to taxpayers, who increasingly wonder where their state income tax and sales tax dollars have gone. Lorain City Schools is just the latest district to be in jeopardy of losing the local control of duly-elected school boards.
Gov. Kasich needs to explain why public school districts are being cut while charter schools see increases. Meanwhile, the “rainy day fund” enjoys a $2 billion balance.
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