Ohio Governor Announces Surprise Budget Plan

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor John Kasich announced his Achievement Everywhere budget plans in January, with a surprise $1.2 billion going to education over the next two years. However, he plans on introducing a new way of funding that has left school administrators with questions.

The new plan is trying to equalize school funding across the state, meaning poorer school districts will get more money and richer ones will get less. It would make every district spend a minimum amount — one that is higher than what most districts now spend — on their schools.

The current problem with Ohio school funding is districts in low-income areas are not able to raise as much property tax money as the ones in rich areas. In order to help these poor districts, Kasich’s plan would use state funding towards the districts that cannot raise their own.

Here are some additional highlights of the plan, as reported by NPR:

• The state would give more money to districts with low property values so the bottom 80 percent of districts would get the same revenue base as the top 20 percent.
• The $10 million that funds severely disabled students would increase to $100 million.
• Charter school would receive $100 per pupil to spend on building, and they would receive state funding comparable to what students would get in their home districts.
• A $300 million competitive grant program would give to schools that come up with ways to become more efficient and enhance student achievement. These funds would give schools flexibility on how to spend the money, as opposed to most federal grants.
• Vouchers for private school tuition will be given to kindergartners whose family earns below 200 percent of the poverty line next school year.
• Districts would get more flexibility in setting their calendars, with a minimum number of hours to meet instead of 184 days a year.

A week after the plan was revealed, Kasich released breakdowns of how much money school districts could expect, showing that some higher income districts — such as Orange, which ranks fifth in income and sixth in property value — would get increases, while some poorer districts still would not get more money from the state.

Many complain that his formula does not take into account changes in enrollment and property values over the past four years. For instance, the formula uses an enrollment number that includes children living in the district who actually attend charter schools.

The plan is still in the works, as the state legislators will not pass the two-year budget until June 30. The numbers will likely change before then, and once the actual budget bill is revealed, it is likely that months of debate and lobbying will follow.