State of the State: Governor restores school outreach program at 2% of prior funding level

Gov. John Kasich announced at his State of the State speech yesterday that he would be putting $10 million into bridging the gaps between schools, families and communities. Here’s the exact language from his “Fact Sheet” released after the speech:

“The governor will propose using $10 million from casino-licensing fees to support innovative community efforts that bring together parents, community organizations, faith-based groups, businesses and others in support of our schools and to mentor students.  The 3-to-1 matching grants will help give more Ohio students access to role models who can help motivate and inspire them, as well as help them develop skills that lead to success in school and the workplace.”

If this sounds familiar, it should. That’s because during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, the state actually funded Family and Community Liaisons for every 75 children living in poverty in a district. They would have served almost exactly the same functions as Kasich’s $10 million program.

However, the the level of commitment was drastically different. During the biennium prior to Kasich taking office, the state calculated that children needed $987.8 million to better connect their education with their family and community. The state actually funded $567 million of that because the formula was being phased in over time during the Great Recession.

And since the provision wasn’t fully funded, districts were not required to spend that money on family and community engagement.

Now that Gov. Kasich has seen fit to invest in these kinds of community connections again — an idea that has solid evidence behind its efficacy, it pays to look at how much he believes in it.

If the idea is included in the upcoming mid-biennium budget review, that will represent $10 million spent in the 2014-2015 biennium on family and community engagement. And local districts will have to pony up resources to gain access to this $10 million, which represents just under 2% of the commitment shown in the biennium prior to Kasich taking office.

To give you an idea of scale, in the 2010-2011 school year, $11.6 million was sent just to Akron Public Schools for family and community engagement. That is 16% more than Kasich will spend statewide for his plan.

Looked at another way, family and community engagement will be cut by about 98% from the biennium prior to Kasich taking office.

But that’s better than a 100% cut, which is what the Kasich Administration saw fit to do in his first budget.