Perrysburg Board of Education concerned with governor's school funding formula


Editor's note: This version corrects the amount of money the district would receive per student if the bill passes.

Perrysburg superintendent Tom Hosler said the Perrysburg district would receive $20,000 per student if the new education bill passes as is, up from $16,000 before.
Perrysburg superintendent Tom Hosler said the Perrysburg district would receive $20,000 per student if the new education bill passes as is, up from $16,000 before.

Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler sat in a car with other local superintendents digesting a statewide education meeting held recently in Columbus by Gov. John Kasich that laid out his proposed school funding formula.

Mr. Hosler updated board members on the governor's meeting and follow-up discussions in the car Tuesday at the Perrysburg Board of Education meeting. He said how he believed the governor might have deviated from his original statement that poorer districts would receive more money, while rich districts received less.

"The question then was what is a poor district?," Mr. Hosler said. "A different definition of a poor district."

Mr. Hosler raised the question after learning that under the proposal, Perrysburg received 25 percent more money per student, while some surrounding districts would not. Mr. Hosler said there are more factors to funding like how many kids you have, if a district is growing and how the property tax is fluctuating in the district.

“I said to them (in the car), 'we're not a rich district, but we are not poor,'” Mr. Hosler said Tuesday night. “At least we are not going to have cuts.”

The governor's recently released funding estimates under the proposal surprised many local superintendents since they seemed to run contrary to how the governor and his staff initially presented the new formula.

No district will lose state money next year under the formula. Overall, basic aid to schools would increase 6 percent in the first year of the two-year budget and 3.2 percent in the second. In all, the amount of state funds funneled through the new basic aid for schools would be $6.2 billion in fiscal year 2014, beginning July 1, and $6.4 billion the following budget year.

Total general revenue spending after factoring in extras such as the proposed $300 million incentive fund to be $7.4 billion and $7.7 billion, respectively.

But since funding is tied to where students are, instead of past district funding levels, districts with growing enrollment or those who saw rapid property valuation declines get much more than 6 percent. Along with Perrysburg, state funds for Springfield Local Schools, for instance, would increase nearly 40 percent under the proposal in Fiscal Year 2014, and Ottawa Hills would get an increase of 25 percent. The Rossford district would get nearly 50 percent more in state funds.

Mr. Hosler said the Perrysburg district would receive $2,000 per student if the bill passes as is, up from $1,600 before.

“My concern (with the bill) is the lack of details,” board member Walt Edinger said. “The biggest frustration I have as a board member, the role of board member is being diminished to following someone trying to get votes in an election. Local boards have no more authority anymore because the state runs it.”

The school board also expressed concerned for a change in graduation calculators. Currently special needs students can stay in the district learning until they are 22, but if they do not graduate at 18, Mr. Hosler said they would be considered a dropout under the proposed bill.

“It's big, bold and complicated,” Mr. Hosler said of the bill. “One of the concerns we have, and the governor knows this, is we want every dollar to go to the classroom.”

The board expressed the need to get money in the classroom because members fear that the new bill will require more administrators in schools, taking away from funding for teachers.

“This bill is not about bettering the student,” board member Valerie Hovland said.