Local Taxpayers will feel squeeze under Governor’s proposed School Funding
School funding in Ohio relies on the concept of shared responsibility between the local and state government. Basically, school district revenue consists of three main sources, which includes local, state and federal. The local revenue sources account for 74.49 percent and include local property taxes, local income taxes, tuition payments, fees, sales, etc. The state revenue sources account for 21.77 percent and include such subsidies as Basic State Aid, rollback/homestead property tax allocations, and state grants. The federal revenue sources account for just 3.74 percent and include both restricted and unrestricted federal grants such as Title I (Reading), Title VI-B (Special Education) and Title II-A (Teacher Professional Development).
During Fiscal Year 2012 Big Walnut’s local contribution per pupil was $7,842, the State of Ohio contributed $2,292, while the Federal contribution per student was $394. In Similar Districts during FY 2012 the local contribution per pupil was only $5,716, the state contributed $3,354, and the Federal contribution per pupil was $428. The statewide average during FY 2012 was a $5,276 local contribution per student, the state revenue per student was $4,675, and the Federal contribution per student was $900.
As you can see from these numbers Big Walnut receives less state and federal aid than both its similar school districts and the statewide average across Ohio, which unfairly shifts the funding burden to our local residents. This is of concern to us because the state budget, as recently introduced by the Governor, includes a new position by the state regarding public school funding in which “wealthy schools” will receive less state aid and poorer schools will receive more state aid. A “wealthy” school district, as defined by the state, is a school district with a high property valuation per pupil. Since Big Walnut Local School District covers 109 square miles it has a relatively large total property valuation of more than $640 million to serve 3100 students. Recent articles in the newspapers and media comments may be confusing to some residents in the Big Walnut community; therefore, we wanted to provide you with the best and most current information available regarding the effect the budget may have on our community.
The Governor’s budget estimates indicate that Big Walnut’s state support for the next two years (i.e. 2014 – 2015) will continue to be frozen at last year’s 2012 funding level. Despite Big Walnut maintaining non-emergency local operating revenue at the 20-mil floor, which is the minimum amount the state requires all school districts to levy or collect upon their residents, the state considers us to be “wealthy” because our sparsely populated large geographic area results in a high property valuation per pupil. Only in local aid does Big Walnut receive more funding because the voters in our district approved the 2010 emergency operating levy that makes up for the lack of state and federal money. It is important to recognize that less local support would not result in more state or federal money as Big Walnut has a high property wealth per pupil referred to by the state as “high wealth”. This “high wealth” state budget theory is much like qualifying for college financial aid. For instance, if a parent has the monetary resources or earned income to fund tuition their student will get less or no Federal aid regardless of their parents’ apparent ability to pay for college.
We hope that during the budget process we will see modifications to the bill that will result in additional state funding for our school district. While state funding is complex and confusing as the above numbers illustrate the inequity of using local wealth as a determination of receiving state aide. Big Walnut has maximized its local resources to deliver a quality education with little help from the state and federal government.
We encourage you to contact Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl at 614–466-1431 to express concern about proposed school funding that freezes or eliminates state support to schools based on communities’ collective property value wealth.
This information was compiled from the FY12 District Profile Report located on the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) website at < www.ode.state.oh.us >.