Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Three school districts in Scioto County will receive funding increases as part of the new school funding plan announced by Ohio Gov. John Kasich last week. Superintendents at two of those schools said they are grateful for the increase, but they wonder just how much this funding will really help disadvantaged districts.
According to figures released by the state of Ohio on Wednesday, Northwest, New Boston and Scioto County Career Technical Center will see funding increases in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. Northwest will receive an 8 percent increase in 2014 to collect $11,711,204, and then a 3 percent gain in 2015 to collect $12,086,346. New Boston will receive a 16 percent increase in 2014 to collect $1,883,686, and then an 11 percent increase in 2015 to collect $2,097,464. The Scioto County Career Technical Center will receive an increase of 12 percent in 2014 to collect $3,024,925, and then no increase in 2015.
Other school districts in Scioto County will see no change in funding; Bloom-Vernon will remain at $5,420,930, Clay at $2,619,904, Green at $3,126,068, Minford at $8,616,070, Portsmouth at $17,345,505, Valley at $6,616,853, Washington Nile at $9,506,363, and Wheelersburg at $6,236,472. Funding data was not available for Sciotoville or Notre Dame schools.
Gov. Kasich announced his new school funding plan on Thursday of last week, boosting districts that are lagging in property values and household incomes. Barbara Mattei-Smith, Assistant Policy Director for Education in Kasich’s office, said the governor’s plan is to bring every district up to a level of funding as if they had $250,000 of property value for each pupil in their district.
“When we look at Ohio’s students in our school districts across the state, one of the things you notice immediately, is the great disparity in terms of wealth,” Mattei-Smith said. “We ask, as a part of our partnership for funding schools, we ask local districts to contribute 20 mills of local property taxes. In our poorest district in the state, those 20 mills will raise about $900 per pupil. In our wealthy district, it raises over $14,000 per pupil. That’s a huge disparity. So a lot of our effort is to reduce that disparity, that ensures that all of our students have an equal opportunity for success.”
She said only 24 districts in the state have valuations higher than $250,000, and that most school districts have a millage of 30 to 40 mills.
Northwest Superintendent Todd Jenkins said he was pleased to see an increase for his district. He called it a weight off his shoulders and said it would help the district avoid cuts, but he also worries about the other local districts that also need and deserve help.
“For us it’s great. Being in fiscal caution, it helps us move out of that state and into the next level,” Jenkins said. “Last Thursday Gov. Kasich presented in Columbus, at Polaris, to superintendents about the funding. I took it that those schools that were in poverty would receive an increase, if not stay the same. But just knowing that there are other districts in the county that have disadvantaged students as well … it just seems kind of odd that we would be the only one — and New Boston (and SCCTC) — we would be the only county schools to receive funding. I know that at every school there is an economic disadvantage.”
New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs shared a similar sentiment — he’s very thankful that his district is getting help, but unconvinced that the governor’s funding plan will really help disadvantaged districts.
“I don’t think it’s what a lot of us expected when the governor said he was going to provide for the low-wealth districts. I don’t think that’s evident in the numbers,” Staggs said. “If you go through the numbers, New Albany and New Boston are very close on the list. If you’ve ever been to New Albany, a home that costs $500,000 is probably the norm, and they’re getting quite a bit of money. Moreso than any Appalachian district that I saw.”
Staggs also pointed at the Olentangy School District in Delaware County, which he called “the big winner” with a 332 percent increase in 2014 to collect $19,015,170, and then a 23 percent increase in 2015 to collect $23,473,975.
“It makes me feel like we’re lucky,” Staggs said. “I don’t think overall what the governor said they’re trying to do, and what actually is happening, does not seem to coincide with each other. They don’t seem to match up.”
Kasich’s education advisers say no schools will see reduced funding next year under the current formula, and overall state funding will increase.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or email@example.com.