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Kasich Says School Funding Increased

In his proposed budget, the governor points to an increase in general revenue fund spending through fiscal year 2015, but school officials are skeptical

 

Gov. John Kasich says his proposed state budget, if passed, would increase the education funding above 2011 levels. 

In a bold statement, Kasich also noted that state funding for schools has gone up each year he’s been in office, according to a press release issued on Friday.

However, that’s a claim that doesn't satisfy some local school officials.

State budget and school officials told Patch that there would be no additional cuts moving forward, despite the loss of federal stimulus money.

(See the attached press release at right)

“The governor was insistent that no district receive less dollars than they do today,” said Jim Lynch, the special advisor to the director of the office of budget and management. 

In a press release, Kasich notes that the state general revenue fund (without property tax relief), is headed from $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2011 to an estimated $6.5 billion in 2013.

If the proposed budget passes, state revenue funds would hit $7 billion in 2015, according to the news release.

Federal stimulus money dropped off in fiscal year 2012, while property tax relief funding looks to rise from $1.04 billion in 2011 to $1.1 billion in 2015. 

Some school officials are skeptical of the proposal — as well as the governor's claims.

“You can do creative accounting with numbers all day long,” said Lakewood schools treasurer Timothy Penton.

“We have incurred losses in our state funding every year since John Kasich has been in office. Our funding has declined.”

He said that the district has already lost its stabilization funding, and personal property taxes to the tune of $2.4 million.

“I am certainly relieved and I am grateful that we didn’t take a reduction,” added Penton, “and I am disappointed that we didn’t see anymore of an increase than we did. We must continue to rely on our community and their ability to support our programs.”

The state supreme court has repeatedly found Ohio's school funding system to be unconstitutional. A plan proposed by former Gov. Ted Strickland also aimed to address this, but was not fully funded when passed.

In Lakewood, the district is looking to place a 3.9-mill levy before voters on the May 7 ballot.

“We have to ask our local property owner to support our schools,” Penton said. “It didn’t surprise me that (the proposed budget) left 65 percent of the districts in the state with no increase. We shuffled the deck but we ended up with the same deck.” 

Kasich’s school funding proposal looks to close the gap between high- and low-income districts and, it would be fully funded from the start, the governor said last week.

Barb Mattei-Smith, the assistant director of education policy for the governor, testified before the state house finance and appropriation committee last week on behalf of Kasich’s proposal.

“Some of the school districts aren’t going to see new money under the new budget,” Mattei-Smith told Patch. “They may have lost some state money. But the federal dollars are definitely gone.

“(School districts) should not be losing from where they are today.”

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