Kasich’s Budget Proposal Leaves Questions In School Funding

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Gov. John Kasich released his 2016-17 state budget proposal in February, and while more than $7.5 billion has been proposed for education funding, the impact on local schools is a bit unclear.

The proposal by the governor is far from final, as the budget will likely see many changes from the House and Senate before the June 30 deadline for approval.

State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Stuebenville), who serves on the senate finance committee, said that there is a long way to go with the state budget and that changes are expected.

State Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), who is the chairman of the house finance committee, said he did not think there was any governor who proposed a budget which did not see some changes, although it is too soon to know exactly which changes will be made.

In the governor’s proposal, Athens City Schools would see a 3.5 percent decrease in funding for fiscal year 2016 (July 2015-June 2016). State funding would then decrease in fiscal year 2017 by 2.6 percent in addition to the previous fiscal year’s funding cuts.

Alexander Local School District would see a 1.5 percent decrease in funding for fiscal year 2016, with an additional 1.5 percent decrease in fiscal year 2017.

The numbers are the same for Federal Hocking Local School District which would see a 1.5 percent decrease in state aid in both fiscal year 2016 and 2017.

For Trimble Local it is a mixed bag, with an decrease of 1.1 percent in fiscal year 2016 and an increase of 1.7 percent in fiscal year 2017.

Nelsonville-York City Schools is the only one to see an increase in both years of the budget, with a 5.8 percent increase in fiscal year 2016 and a 2.3 percent increase in fiscal year 2017.

State funding is only a portion of the formula, as the proposed budget would also push more of the responsibility of funding the local districts on the local residents.

Public Financial Resources, a Columbus-based business that calculates “financial forecasts” for government entities and school districts, estimates Athens City School District residents would have to pay a 0.60 mill levy to maintain current funding levels, with Alexander Local needing a 0.40 mill levy.

While those may not seem to harsh, consider Trimble Local which would need a 6.53 mill levy to make up the difference lost under the new funding formula.

Gentile said that under the proposed formula more than 64 percent of the school districts in the 30th senate district he serves would see reductions in funding.
“Trimble gets a cut. I wouldn’t consider Trimble a wealthy district,” said Gentile of taking money from some of the state’s poorer districts.

Smith stated that they are looking into different scenarios and distribution of funding, noting that appalachian schools need more help with funding.

Nine of the 11 districts in Smith’s district are seeing a cut under the proposed budget Smith noted.

With the increasing state surplus, Gentile questioned making education a priority with those funds.

“If education is a priority then it should be funded as one,” said Gentile of making education a priority of the state budget.