As voters head to the polls, it’s worth looking back at how the past four years have been for public education in Ohio. Here are our Five School Funding Facts All Ohio Voters Need to Know:
- Traditional public schools, which educate 90% of Ohio’s kids, now receive $515 million less state funding than before Gov. Kasich took office. The Governor’s first two-year budget cut $1.8 billion from schools, and he and his legislative allies failed to restore all of that in the budget that followed. Three out of four school districts receive less state funding today than they did four years ago.
- Ohio’s school funding system remains “unconstitutional” because of its over-reliance on property taxes. Although the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled four separate times that Ohio’s school funding system is unconstitutional, Gov. Kasich and state legislators have not only refused to fix the problem, but their most recent state budget devotes, according to the non-partisan Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the smallest percentage of overall state spending to schools since FY 1997 — the year before the first Supreme Court ruling.
- The cost of local school levies has jumped 34% under Gov. Kasich. To offset state funding cuts, local taxpayers have been forced to pass levies raising 34% more new operating money than was required just four years ago. And thanks to the state’s elimination of the 12.5% property tax roll-back, those levies have already cost local taxpayers $10 million more than they otherwise would have.
- Charter school funding has increased by 27% and charters now receive more state money per pupil than do traditional public schools . While the Governor and his allies in the legislature have slashed state funding for traditional public schools, they simultaneously increased state funding to privately-run charter schools by $193 million, even though many have performance and graduation rates that are worse than urban school districts. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 4 state dollars paid to charters since their inception have gone to poorly performing charters operated by David Brennan or William Lager who, together, have contributed over $5.4 million to Republican candidates and causes.
- Private school vouchers have doubled under Kasich. State funding for vouchers at private schools (over 90% of which are religiously affiliated) has risen from $99 million the year before Kasich took office to over $200 million this school year. In the past four years, the original rationale for vouchers (to allow desperately poor children to escape “failing” public schools in a few urban districts) has been turned on its head. Today, middle class kids from districts rated “excellent” receive private school vouchers. And since voucher money is deducted from the amount public school districts would otherwise receive, the end result is that taxpayers are now subsidizing religious and private school educations at the direct expense of the traditional public schools attended by their own children.
Over the past four years, traditional public schools are now receiving less money, and poorly performing charters are receiving more. Local school levies have jumped dramatically, as have private school vouchers. And Ohio taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill.