Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The state of Ohio announced Wednesday nearly $38 million will go to Ohio schools as their share of the Ohio Casino Tax. Included in that, the Ohio Department of Taxation said Scioto County schools will receive $277,536.64.
The funding comes from taxes levied on casinos in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, and is distributed on a per-pupil basis twice each year to school districts in Ohio. Schools receive 34 percent of the tax revenue, and county governments receive 51 percent. Scioto County last year reportedly received more than $200,000 from the Casino Tax, but this is the first time funding has been released to schools.
Included in this first round of Casino Tax school funding is $39,354.24 for Portsmouth Schools, $33,729.21 for Northwest, $31,924.16 for Wheelersburg, $31,126.58 for Minford, $28,440 for Washington-Nile, $22,164.31 for Valley, $18,994.98 for Bloom-Vernon, $12,803.25 for Clay, $12,635.34 for Scioto County Career Technical Center, $11,396.99 for Green, $10,326.55 for New Boston, and $6,296.68 for Sciotoville Community School.
The remaining money is shared between the Pike County Joint Vocational School, Lawrence County Joint Vocational School, Adams County Ohio Valley School District, Rock Hill Schools, Scioto Valley Schools, Eastern Schools, Oak Hill Schools, Jackson City Schools, Manchester Schools and other educational programs with Scioto County students enrolled.
Portsmouth Superintendent Scott Dutey said the district did not count the tax revenue in their original school budget because they didn’t know how much they might get. Now they have nearly $40,000 of additional money and another tax payment coming later this year, which they can use to help pay down their operating deficit.
“Scott (Dutey) and I really haven’t discussed how we would use it. Anytime we can save money it helps us,” said Kyle Copley, Portsmouth School Treasurer.
As happy as Portsmouth is to receive the money, Dutey said he’s also worried that the state will use this influx of revenue as an excuse to cut state funding in other areas. If that happens, he said, it might mean the district does not have additional revenue, but could at best break even.
“That’s what ends up happening every single time. That’s why we don’t get too excited. We accept it, but in the back of our heads we know it can also just as easily be taken away once the budget comes up,” Dutey said.
Green has been one of the hardest hit school districts lately. While most local districts are enjoying newer buildings, Green has failed three times to pass a local tax levy for emergency operating expenses before finally winning over voters in November. Green Superintendent Sandy Mers was thrilled to hear about the Casino Tax on Wednesday and hopes that future installments could be even more.
“If these are unrestricted funds, it will be put into the general fund for educational use,” she said. “When we got our levy, it wasn’t the end-all savior. It was just a little bit of breathing room, and every bit of revenue that comes in is a little bit of breathing room.”
She said if the district could count on an additional $30,000 from the state every six months, they could plan more educational programs.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Taxation was not available to comment Wednesday.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or email@example.com.