Go back to work on school funding

There appears to be a disconnect between how Gov. John Kasich said schools would fare in the next state budget and how state funds are to be allocated.

In previewing the revised school funding plan that would be incorporated into the state budget, Kasich said, “If you are poor, you’re going to get more. If you’re richer, you’re going to get less.”

It sounded like the state was going to make up for the disparity in property wealth between districts. Yet when the numbers came out, it was apparent some of the poorer districts might get a bit more funding. Others would see no increase.

For example, there would be no increase for Northern Local School District in Perry County. That’s the district where Nathan DeRolph went to school; his lawsuit prompted the Ohio Supreme Court to find the state’s school funding system to be inequitable and unconstitutional in 1997.

Some rich districts, meanwhile, would see huge boosts in funding. Others would not get any extra.

One glaring example is Olentangy Local School District in?Delaware County, where the average household income exceeds $76,000 – tops in Ohio. That growing district is to get a 331 percent increase in state funding.

However, the No. 2 district on the household income list, Orange City School District in Cuyahoga County, is to see zero increase. What gives?

Olentangy has been getting comparatively little state support. But keep in mind variations in property values. As it is, the district’s budget already is close to $50 million.

Nonpartisan Innovation Ohio claims that “in order for kids in Bettsville Local to have the same opportunities as kids in Olentangy do, they will have to levy more than 158 mills for every mill voters in Olentangy raise.”

Yet more money would flow to districts based on size of enrollment, not the size of district. Large, rural districts would be shut out. Lakota Local School?District would see no increase in state funding.

Sure, some districts already get extra state help because they are poor. But many school boards also cut their budgets due to reductions in state funding in the current two-year state budget.

That casts the flat state funding for most districts in our area in a new light. Those cuts were so traumatic, some superintendents were relieved to expect no more cutbacks.

Perhaps the apparent inequity in allocations may be unintended. If so, the state formula should be changed.