New money in Kasich school proposal appears to be temporary

Gov. John Kasich — two years after promising the country’s best funding formula — has instead produced a funding system that he repeatedly said is not a formula. Beyond the disconnect there, the plan has several concerning areas that will be better fleshed out with more information. But here’s what we know now.

1) The amount going through the formula under Kasich’s plan is less than went through the formula in the 2010-11 budget.

While the information the Governor’s office released yesterday is not very detailed, it did show that formula funding apparently will be $6.2 billion in FY14 and $6.4 billion in FY15. In both FY10 and FY11, the funding levels eclipsed $6.5 billion. It will be interesting to see the district-by-district simulations next week to see what this looks like in greater detail.

2) The cuts from the FY12-FY13 budget are not replaced in this budget.

The formula amount is lower and no additional revenue has been delineated describing how the cuts to Tagible Personal Property and Kilowatt Hour tax reimbursements for districts will be replaced. So the historic cuts from that budget appear to remain enshrined.

3) The additional revenue Kasich is touting appears to be one-time money.

The nearly $900 million Kasich guarantees to districts in FY14 and FY15 is money his own information indicates will go away sooner rather than later. Here’s what Kasich’s own document says:

“Over the long-term, the inequities created by “Guarantee Funds” are unsustainable and unfair, and school districts should begin preparing for their eventual phase out .” – Kasich website

Eliminating the guarantee from his formula, as he stated he would do in his own document, would reduce funding levels to $5.8 billion and $6 billion — roughly the amount districts received in 2005-2006. In constant dollars, it would be about the same relative amount districts received in the 1999-2000 school year.

Without approximately $900 million in temporary "guarantee" funding over 2 years, state aid formula funding under Kasich is below 2005-2006 levels.
Without approximately $900 million in temporary “guarantee” funding over 2 years, state aid formula funding under Kasich is below 2005-2006 levels.

This is a familiar refrain — warning districts cuts are coming and if they don’t prepare, it’s the districts’ fault for not preparing, not the state’s fault for cutting.

4) The baseline per pupil amount seems low and conveniently calculated.

Kasich has set everyone to a baseline level where they raise 20 mills on $250,000 per pupil of valuation (with some additional revenue for districts through an additional calculation that isn’t entirely clear year). For those of us who speak English, rather than EduSpeak, that equals $5,000 per pupil. That baseline amount is very low and awfully round. Makes one wonder if the whole “we want everyone to get credit for having $250,000 per pupil of valuation” thing was really a way to manipulate calculations to get to the whole “we want every kid to cost $5,000” thing. That amount is so low that not even eSchools (which don’t have buidlings, buses, janitors, etc.) spend that per pupil.

5) No additional Charter accountability

After several months of talk from Kasich and his allies about getting tough on Charter Schools, that rhetoric was noticeably absent from yesterday’s presentations. We’ll see next week if there is language in the budget dealing with this issue. But if Kasich didn’t talk about it, I don’t think it’s likely we’ll see anything major on additional accountability.

The bottom line for me is this: The additional revenue appears to be coming from one-time state money. Districts are on notice: They have two years to raise more revenue or cut more programming. And if they don’t, it’s their fault for not preparing. Even though the state has $1 billion in a rainy day fund, is looking to establish a new severance tax on oil and gas extraction, and is said to be looking at closing some of the $7 billion of tax expenditures Ohio has, don’t worry.

It appears very little of it will be invested long term in schools.

And that is devastating.