August 30, 2015

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.


  1. Marianne L says:

    Chan you please explain what Accountability measures for charter schools you want to see? Charters report the SAME academic and FISCAL data to the State same as any district, they are audited by the State of Ohio, they get the same report cards, they will be closed for persistent failure. What exactly is it that you want?

    • Stephen Dyer says:

      I would like it if Charters that have to close for failing to serve kids wouldn’t be able to re-open under different names. I would like it if Dropout Recovery schools that graduate 11% of their children — like Like Skills does– wouldn’t be allowed to take tens of millions of dollars from public schools every year. Instead, the state told Dropout Recovery schools they can remain open as long as they improve graduation rates by 10% a year in any two-year period. For Life Skills, that means about 13% graduation rates. I would like it if Charter Schools were paid for what it costs to educate kids in the Charter School, not the traditional school from whence the child came. I would like it if Charter Schools would have to reimburse at least a little bit of money back to Public Schools for transportation costs. I would like it if Charter Schools’ funding didn’t mean that every kid NOT in a Charter School received significantly less money. I would like it if the state would look at the 200 or so regulations Charter Schools don’t have to adhere to and Publics do to see if maybe Charters should adhere to them. I would like it if the for-profit operators that run many Charter Schools were accountable to the Ohio Department of Education (and public) since they receive upwards of 98% of the public money received by the Charter School. RIght now, the Department has no access to the operators’ contracts or books.

      These are just some of the things we should look at.

      A good start is looking to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools model Charter School law. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a much better place from which to begin than our “Wild, Wild West” atmosphere today. How else can you explain that the Ohio Department of Education agrees to sponsor a new Life Skills in Warrensville Heights despite Life Skills graduating 11% of their kids? If the state’s own Department of Education can’t say, “No” to that, then something is terribly, terribly wrong.

    • Charters also spend roughly 2x the amount per pupil on administration and yet don’t have to adhere to the burdensome OTES mandate to evaluate every teacher every year. In traditional publics, we have cut administrators to the bare bone and so there is no possible way we can accomplish these evaluations with the staff we have. But we have no money to hire more. Also, Charters have 76 times the teacher turnover as traditional public schools and their students achieve in the bottom 8% and are yet are taking money away from cash-strapped districts. I know from personal experience that charter schools routinely tell students who are credit deficient that they must return to their home schools to graduate, and tell students who intend to drop out that they have to re-enroll in their home districts before they drop out. Both of these practices are legal, and has the effect of drastically reducing the graduation rate of traditional public schools and inflating the graduation rate of the charter schools. If charter schools can give students choice between good districts, I have no problem with them, but if the money spent on failing charters were funneled into improving public schools – a work done by educators and community working together, NOT LEGISLATORS – then, we would have a much better public school system. As long as charter operators give millions of dollars to political candidates, I suspect we will continue to see the rape of public schools in the name of “school choice.”

  2. Stephen Dyer says:

    Ultimately, though, the issue is this: with only 23 of 300+ Charters rating above the state average Performance Index Score and the average Charter School rating in the bottom 8% of Public School buildings on the PI Score, I think we need to take a serious look at why that is and how it can be improved.


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