Stephen Dyer · July 31, 2017
Now that the state budget has been put to bed, complete with Gov. John Kasich’s veto, we can finally tell how kids in Ohio’s 600 plus school districts have done during Kasich’s eight years in office.
The results aren’t good. Because Kasich drastically cut and all but eliminated essential revenue streams for children in public school districts, they will have more than $900 million fewer in this biennium than they had during the Great Recession biennium of 2010-2011.
These projections are available now in our Comparing School Funding database, based on all state revenue sent to districts.
The bottom line is Ohio’s school districts will receive $903 million fewer over the next two years than they received during the two years budgeted at the height of the Great Recession, adjusted for inflation. In the 2018-2019 school year alone, districts will receive $492.7 million less.
While it is true that the state aid line item is the highest it’s ever been, Kasich and his legislative allies’ decision to abruptly end reimbursement payments to school districts for lost tangible personal property tax and public utility tax revenues (from tax reforms that have not resulted in appreciably more Ohio jobs), as well as their refusal to replace federal funding meant to prop up state budgets during the Great Recession’s steep state revenue declines have meant that overall state funding to schools has, in reality, plummeted during the last eight years.
None of this cut includes the significant increase in funding to school privatization efforts in just the last six years – a more than 27 percent increase to state aid transfers from school districts to privately run charter schools and a whopping 205 percent increase in state funding deductions from school districts to private school vouchers– that also remove significant sums of state dollars from school district bottom lines.
In constant dollars, about 2 out of every 3 Ohio school districts will receive less total aid from the state this next two years than they did from the budget passed during the height of the Great Recession.
The biggest loser by far is the Cleveland Municipal School District, which is receiving a whopping $170 million fewer over the next two years. That’s about the same amount cut as the top 20 gaining districts will receive combined. Remember that Gov. John Kasich has insisted that Cleveland make drastic changes or face state take over. Clearly, he has asked that while removing significant sums of state dollars from the district, making any success the Cleveland Plan is having a minor miracle and a testament to the teachers and district leaders working together with far less state support than ever (for a detailed look at the Cleveland Plan, read our report).
Also of note is that Northern Local School District in Perry County, which was the district that originally sued the state in 1991 because it had to rely too much on property taxes – a premise the Ohio Supreme Court ruled four times was an unconstitutional way to fund schools – will receive $5.7 million fewer over the next two years, forcing Northern Local to (you guessed it) rely more on property taxes.
The state’s historic, 8-year step back from the education funding table has led to property owners paying more property taxes than ever to educate their community’s children, and at higher rates.
Meanwhile, Ohio’s national, overall education rating has dropped from 5th to 22nd.