The Columbus Dispatch
Districts that have
lost students face cuts under Kasich plan
By Jim Siegel
Arguing it "doesn't make any sense" to keep funding school districts
for students who no longer attend there, Gov. John Kasich's education
budget could potentially mean funding cuts for more than half the
public schools in Ohio.
Meanwhile, he's also calling for a two-year freeze on university
tuition and fees, while capping student costs for textbooks at $300 a
year, with institutions picking up the rest of the cost.
Any school district that has lost at least 5 percent of its enrollment
over the past five years would see a funding cut next year under
Kasich's proposed two-year budget, which increases overall school
funding by about 1 percent per year.
For years, Kasich has advocated lowering funding for districts where
enrollment has dropped - at least partially eliminating a "guarantee"
in the funding formula that ensures districts do not get less money
"If you have fewer students, how can you expect the same or more
money?" Kasich said Monday. "If you have fewer people to serve, you
don't need as many resources."
School districts with greater taxing capacity should go to the
taxpayers and "take advantage of that," Kasich said.
This is just the beginning of the budget process and Kasich's attempts
in previous budgets to justify school funding cuts have met strong
resistance from GOP lawmakers.
Under the plan, a district's funds would be cut by an amount equal to
its population loss over 5 percent. So if enrollment dropped 6.5
percent over five years, it would lose 1.5 percent in 2018 and then get
the same amount in 2019. Cuts would be capped at 5 percent.
It's not yet clear exactly how enrollment is calculated - specific
district numbers are not ready yet - but based on state data, 351 of
Ohio's 610 districts lost more than 5 percent of their students from
None of those districts is in Franklin County, but 16 are in adjacent
counties, including Heath, Granville, Buckeye Valley and Jefferson
In Cuyahoga County, 18 of 31 districts have lost at least 5 percent, as
have all 20 in Trumbull County and 11 of 16 in Montgomery County.
Many districts complain about losing enrollment - along with funding
that follows the student - to charter schools.
The three main public school associations, representing school boards,
superintendents and treasurers, noted that funding under this proposal
continues to fail to keep up with inflation. They also stress that
funding should be based on whether districts have enough resources to
serve their students.
"There are still disparities in the education opportunities available
to students among the districts across the state," said Damon Asbury of
the School Boards Association. "We want to see this budget continue to
make strides in helping all students succeed."
Kasich also is proposing to add three nonvoting business owners to each
local school board, a move public education associations called
unnecessary because boards can already utilize business advisory
councils. He also wants to require teacher externships and better
utilize libraries for job training programs The budget also allocates
$30 million for the Straight A Fund, designed to pay for innovate
In addition to freezing college costs, Kasich wants to push
universities to do more commercialization of technology and innovations.
"Right now, it's not being done to any great degree whatsoever," he
In an effort to further educate adults, Kasich proposes recognizing
Western Governor's University, a private, online school based in Utah,
as an Ohio institution. He also wants to allow some Ohio community
colleges the ability to offer four-year bachelor's degrees - an issue
that has drawn opposition from four-year institutions in the past.
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