More fun with math: the horrible GOP school funding amendment


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As we have discussed previously, the House GOP is likely to amend the Governor’s budget to change the school funding formula. They want to limit the size of cuts in state funding so that no district is cut by more than 20%.

The problem with this approach is that the Kasich administration considered when allocating the funds how reliant a district is on state funding for its schools. But the GOP “solution” does not – it simply looks at the magnitude of the cut.

Let’s consider a district facing a big cut under the Kasich plan, one that was cited in the Plain Dealer as the target of the GOP “fix”  – Rocky River in Cuyahoga County. In Fiscal Year 2011, the district received $1.19 million from the state. Under the Kasich proposal, that will drop to $264K in Fiscal Year 2012, a whopping 78% reduction in state funds. But those state funds are but a tiny sliver of all the money available to Rocky River. It’s an extremely wealthy district where a 1 mill property tax levy raises $716K in revenue. So, in order to make up their one-year loss in state funds, they would need to pass a 1.3 mill levy.

Now take a low-wealth school district like Trimble Local in Athens County. It received $6.62 million in 2011, which is slated to be cut by $356K to $6.26 million, a reduction in state funds of “only” 5%. But a mill in Trimble only raises $41,089 because the value of property there is so low. To make up for their measly 5% cut, Trimble Schools will have to pass an 8.7 mill levy! And under the GOP plan, Trimble School District will get no help. None.

What the GOP plan ignores is how much of a district’s funding comes from the state, which in turn, has a lot to do with how property poor a district is. It simply looks at the size of the cut. The poorest districts have no prayer of passing the enormous tax levies required to make up for the loss of state funds, while the rich districts will do fine, yet the GOP is still rushing to their rescue.

And this, kids, is why our school funding in Ohio is unconstitutional and why the GOP amendment is a horrible fix.

Note: if you are interested in playing with the numbers to see how much money a 1 mill levy raises in each district, and how many mills they will have to raise to make up for the Kasich cuts, check out this spreadsheet from Innovation Ohio.

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  1. Surprise! GOP targets new money to rich school districts | Ohio Budget Watch

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