School funding: Time to start from scratch?

School funding: Time to start from scratch?

Peter Comings
on Apr 13, 2012

Four times declared unconstitutional, how do local schools, the state of Ohio and the average resident combine to keep schools open using the existing school funding formula? Should we start from scratch?

Participants (17) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-04-23T17:36:06+00:00
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Recent Activity

Michael Hagesfeld
on Jan 31, 2013
"Chris and Alex - I am not sure that the "X-Factor" is the issue here.  Even if we agree that all..."
Kalyani Sapkal
on Nov 18, 2012
"Enrichment Programs are crucial and complementary to the education provided in public schools. I..."
Peter Comings
on Sep 05, 2012
"Let's bring school funding back up for discussion. I've posted a link to this conversation to my..."
Michael Steiner
on May 07, 2012
"Here is the Ohio School Board's summary of school funding activity that took place in the Ohio..."
Larry Brown
on Apr 30, 2012
"As superintendent of the North Ridgeville City School District, I live and work in the school..."
Peter Comings
on Apr 27, 2012
"Michael, Thanks for joining the discussion. I agree that providing suggestions for a footprint..."
Michael Steiner
on Apr 27, 2012
"Representative Ron Amstutz has been tasked with developing a new funding formula by the Ohio..."
Peter Comings
on Apr 26, 2012
"Reporting by StateImpact Ohio offers some more context."
Alex Keleman
on Apr 26, 2012
"If we need to spend a factor of 100 as in your example, or a factor of even 10 x more in one..."
Chris Jacobs
on Apr 26, 2012
"I'm not sure how we define "equitable" either, but I think that there is value for everyone in..."
Alex Keleman
on Apr 26, 2012
"I do think the state has a basic obligation to support schools, especialy since it is in the..."
Dawn Neely Randall
on Apr 25, 2012
"Big Ohio Achievement Assessment #2 for our 5th-graders today. Math. Two and a half long and..."
Peter Comings
on Apr 24, 2012
"Alex, Living and working in northern Michigan for 10 years, I saw a version of the model where..."
Alex Keleman
on Apr 23, 2012
"Bob, Since you are the Supt. of one of the better of state schools (Avon Lake) I'd like to put..."
Bob Scott
on Apr 22, 2012
"Starting from scratch may be the only way to get to a system of funding for schools in Ohio which..."
Peter Comings
on Apr 17, 2012
"Piet, I would really enjoy hearing from some of the superintendent, board members or taxpayers..."
Piet van Lier
on Apr 17, 2012
"One thing to understand about the situation is that there is no school funding formula anymore...."
Peter Comings
on Apr 17, 2012
"Larry, Nancy, thanks for joining in. An understanding of HB920 is critical in this."
Nancy Reeves
on Apr 16, 2012
"For those who don't know what HB 920 does, when a school district initially passes a levy it..."
Larry Brown
on Apr 16, 2012
"Many public school officials agree that a change that would alter or rescind the legislative..."
Jason Segedy
on Apr 16, 2012
"Wasn't the lottery (i.e. regressive tax on the poor and gullible) supposed to solve all of our..."

Peter Comings

Peter Comings - 2014-04-23T17:36:07+00:00 - "Four times declared unconstitutional, how do local schools, the state of Ohio and the average..."

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Peter Comings
on Sep 05, 2012 - 3:14 pm

Let's bring school funding back up for discussion. I've posted a link to this conversation to my Google+ account with the idea that enough interest there could lead to more conversation.

 

Responses(1)

Kalyani Sapkal
on Nov 18, 2012

Enrichment Programs are crucial and complementary to the education provided in public schools. I could think of two ways in which public schools can raise money, improve performance and better support their operational needs.

Firstly, public schools can organize to form a 501(c)3 organization to perform fundraising operations and supplement their finances. Through these non-profits the schools can reach out to the community. Thus the schools will be able to diversify their funding streams and even improve their performance. The challenge however, is to venture out in the sector where the schools currently do not possess expertise. Hence, the second option makes sense.

Public schools can approach non-profit organizations providing after-school programs. These 501(c)3 organizations operate on membership fees and community support. They can provide afterschool programs in school vicinity.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Michael Steiner
on Apr 27, 2012 - 9:37 am

Representative Ron Amstutz has been tasked with developing a new funding formula by the Ohio House leadership. Seems like the perfect time for the education community assoications to step up and make a recommendation yet OSBA seems very reluctant to take the lead since the topic is a "hot potato" for its membership. I have to believe that giving the legislature a footprint is much better than asking them to build a formula from scratch. So far the project is moving at a snail's pace.

 

Responses(2)

Peter Comings
on Apr 27, 2012

Michael,

Thanks for joining the discussion. I agree that providing suggestions for a footprint as you say is more useful than just saying, "This is unconsitutional." Of course, that is all the state Supreme Court CAN say. But where is the understanding of processes among Ohio residents to help build that footprint? I hope the discussion here can broaden that understanding (including my own).

 
Michael Steiner
on May 07, 2012

Here is the Ohio School Board's summary of school funding activity that took place in the Ohio House Finance Commitee Last week.  There are some Power Points that the "expert" used in the presentation to the committee which I did not seek permission to include here, but I am confident they are available on-line.

House begins school-funding hearings

This week, the House Finance and Appropriations Committee began hearings on school funding. The hearings included a presentation on the basics of Ohio school funding by Education First consultant Paolo DeMaria, a former official with the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, Department of Education and Board of Regents.

 

The first hearing (parts 1 and 2) provided a brief overview of Ohio’s K-12 funding system, using a variety of statistics that included revenue sources, state share and K-12 education spending. The second hearing (part 3 and 4) illustrated how school funding in Ohio works, including a discussion on the foundation formula theory and methods for determining base cost. The presentation also took a brief look at the Ohio Supreme Court’s four decisions on the DeRolph school-funding lawsuit, as well as a discussion of Ohio’s recent funding models.

 

Next week’s third and final presentation by DeMaria will include a further look at how local school district revenues are generated and the revenue “tools” available to local districts. The presentation also will examine potential issues and problems policymakers will confront as they review Ohio’s school-funding system and identify solutions for improving it.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Dawn Neely Randall
on Apr 25, 2012 - 8:03 am

Big Ohio Achievement Assessment #2 for our 5th-graders today. Math. Two and a half long and tedious hours of math problem solving by 10 and 11 year olds. Yet the state can't even figure out how to fix our funding, which has been deemed unconstitutional, with with our tax dollars. Oh, the irony of it all.

 
Bob Scott
on Apr 22, 2012 - 7:59 pm

Starting from scratch may be the only way to get to a system of funding for schools in Ohio which is not just equitable, but adequate. The current way (I can't say "system" because that might make someone believe that there is a rhyme or reason for the way schools receive State funds) of funding schools is based on an arbitrary $$ amount.  With every election, every new Education Bill, every State and Federal mandate school funding gets more out of whack.

It is time for communities to come together around the educational needs of our current and future generations.  This is an economic question, but also a social question.  America is what it is because of our collective work ethic and because we have educational opportunities for all young people.

We need to define a 21st century education.  We need to fund that education for all of our young people. That funding system must be based on a legitimate cost of meeting the educational needs of all children.

 

Responses(7)

Alex Keleman
on Apr 23, 2012

Bob,

Since you are the Supt. of one of the better of state schools (Avon Lake) I'd like to put you on the spot in regards to your comments.

I don't happen to agree with the DeRolph ruling. You and most of the other posters here seem to. 

Either we have local school systems, and fund them locally, or we scuttle the whole system and let the state fund all of it. The path we are going down now tries to have it both ways,  and the local taxpayers are getting slammed trying to fund it. 

You wrote: ""It is time for communities to come together around the educational needs of our current and future generations. ... That funding system must be based on a legitimate cost of meeting the educational needs of all children."

So what portion of the AL schools budget would you be willing to give up to fund, say Lorain or Elyria schools in a county administered system? Or instead, how much extra would you ask AL voters to pay to have a portion of that money be funneled again to Elyria or Lorain?

i'm afraid what DeRolph backers really want is medoicre schools for all, in the interest of equity.

 

And to the poster who said abolish HB 920 - sure, do that and give the schools a blank check to keep funding ever spiraling salaries, health care and pensions at unrealistic levels. Thats where the bulk of increasing costs are going.

 

 

 

 
Peter Comings
on Apr 24, 2012

Alex,

Living and working in northern Michigan for 10 years, I saw a version of the model where all operating money came from Lansing. Schools could only pass levies for capital expenses. There was one very small district which was prohibited from even asking voters for operating money though, had they been able to, I'm convinced the voters would have passed an operating levy.

By the same token, with the state's ability to mandate services schools must provide, shouldn't there be required some financial support of those?

 
Alex Keleman
on Apr 26, 2012

I do think the state has a basic obligation to support schools, especialy since it is in the State Constitution. The problem I have with DeRoplh, and the two school supers who have posted but haven't responded, is that it says delivery must be "equitable," which is not possible.

It is like saying everyone is entitled to live in a safe neighborhood. We are, but some areas will always be more dangerous than others, despite the level of funding or policing. Is that fair, is it it equitable? No. Yet like the schools, some of these disparities in delivery exist only a few miles or sometimes blocks apart.

I live in a high performing distict, and our super has been one of the defenders of the RPI plan to share local levy money across districts, because he feels it will help the state as a whole. That means for every local dollar we give up, we lose services, or we must pay more.

Whether we take money directly as in the RPI/Greater Ohio/Brookings scheme, or indirectly by saying that every district should deliver at the same high level, we in the higher performing, better off districts will be asked to pay more. And I would venture to say that the Supers of AL, N. Ridgeveille or Hudson will not feel the same bite all those local taxpayers will, as most don't live in the districts where they work.

 

 

 

 
Chris Jacobs
on Apr 26, 2012

I'm not sure how we define "equitable" either, but I think that there is value for everyone in the state of having educated citizens. 

Some excellent schools might only need $X per student to produce excellent graduates, while other schools might need $100X per student to produce quality graduates.  Solon vs. East Cleveland, perhaps?  

So I suppose I agree with your fears that people in better off districts should pay more.  All Ohioans would all benefit in the long run by spending more per pupil in poor-performing school districts.  Poorly educated students are a long-term problem for all Ohio residents, not just the residents of the poorer school districts.

Local property taxes do not appear to provide an equitable funding mechanism.  I would use property taxes to maintain infrastructure (roads/water/sewer), and institute a statewide income tax (1%?) dedicated to school funding, to be distributed by the state using some sort of need-based formula. 

Of course, recent experience suggests that the state income tax receipts can vary unexpectedly, so hopefully the rate would be set so that the tax revenue would be sufficient in the boom times to produce a large enough rainy-day fund to fund education in the lean years as well.

 

 
Alex Keleman
on Apr 26, 2012

If we need to spend a factor of 100 as in your example, or a factor of even 10 x more in one district than another to bring them to an equitbale level, then we should just abolish local districts or lcal control.

The state already reallocates funds, and much of tha ends up in stadiums, field houses or sports programs of acacdemically poorly performing schools.

Ever wonder how much all of us in Ohio are paying for the Cleveland "powerhouse" football programs? If that district values atheltics over academics, or thinks sports  is the best way to produce better citizens, then that is their local decision.Their students are the result.

Or how much is spent on local salaries, overhead or facilities-- all local decisions. If the rest of Ohio is paying the amjority of the local tab, then the state should make the decisons, not the local school boards.

I don't hink that would go over too well in Ohio, either.

 

 
Larry Brown
on Apr 30, 2012

As superintendent of the North Ridgeville City School District, I live and work in the school district.

 
Michael Hagesfeld
on Jan 31, 2013

Chris and Alex - I am not sure that the "X-Factor" is the issue here.  Even if we agree that all schools need $X per-student to properly educate kids (not saying that ist he case, but let's just say that for now), if we depend on a property-tax basis for funding schools, then a poorer district simply cannot get to the $X mark.  It seems like simple math to me (and someone correct me if I am missing things):  to stick with the example we started with, if Elyria's housing stock is $64K (http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Elyria-Ohio/market-trends/), and Avon Lake's is $160K (http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/44012-Avon_Lake/market-trends/), then Elyria needs to have 2.5 times higher property taxes to make up the difference.  How can this possibly be fair?  Again, maybe I am missing subtleties and this difference is made up elsewhere, but I have not found the locale for this.  If someone has it, please do share. - Mike Hagesfeld

Concerned parent in a lower-home-valued district 

 
Expand This Thread
Piet van Lier
on Apr 17, 2012 - 3:09 pm

One thing to understand about the situation is that there is no school funding formula anymore. When the current administration threw out Strickland's Evidence-Based Model, it was not replaced by anything. Current funding to school districts is based on previous payments, minus cuts across the board.

After that decision to throw out EBM, the legislature and governor passed a budget bill that left school districts around Ohio with $1.8 billion less over this two-year budget than they received over the last two-year budget. This includes about $800,000 in funding from the federal stimulus, which the state chose not to replace, and more than $1.1 billion in state funding cuts.

So we are starting from scratch whether we like it or not, and adding vouchers and charters makes funding even more unstable than it otherwise would be for the districts that educate the vast majority of Ohio's children.

First, policymakers need to think about raising new revenue -- it's clear that years of tax cuts have hurt the state, not strengthened our economy as promised. New revenue -- and by that I mean thinking carefully about how to increase taxes (eliminating some loopholes, raising some rates) on individuals and business -- will povide a starting point. Then we've got to look at how to provide equitable funding for all districts and students.

One of the problems with school funding is that the property tax tends to provide the most stable funding because it fluctuates less with ups and downs of the economy. But it exacerbates inequities, making it harder to provide adequate funding in places with low property valuation.

(I'm with Policy Matters Ohio, the independent, nonpartisan state policy research institute, where I've done education research since 2007. Before that I wrote and reporteed on urban education for Catalyst magazine.)

 

On

 

Responses(2)

Peter Comings
on Apr 17, 2012

Piet,

I would really enjoy hearing from some of the superintendent, board members or taxpayers invited. How can policy makers do these things with a closer ear to the ground?

 
Peter Comings
on Apr 26, 2012

Reporting by StateImpact Ohio offers some more context.

 
Expand This Thread
Larry Brown
on Apr 16, 2012 - 4:43 pm

Many public school officials agree that a change that would alter or rescind the legislative actions in Ohio House Bill 920 (Passed in 1976) would be the best solution for our current school funding situation. Most state and federal governmental agencies, other than Ohio Schools, have budgets that are tied to inflationary indicators. Even the Social Security Administration's general benefit increases are based on cost of living adjustments.  The SSA's website has the information about the increases as high as 5.8% in 2008.

 

Responses(2)

Nancy Reeves
on Apr 16, 2012

For those who don't know what HB 920 does, when a school district initially passes a levy it generates a certain amount of money for the school district.  In extremely broad terms, the amount of money the levy generates in that first year is all it will ever generate in any later year. 

While your home goes up in value, your tax rate goes down over time to keep the money the levy generates at the same dollar level.  In the mean time, school expenses are growing about as fast as property values.  The impact of the law, over time, is that this main source of income for the school effectively shrinks over time, as the fixed dollars generated when the levy first passed buy less and less.  (In addition, most levies expire, so not only do schools have to keep going back to the voters to keep the same dollars coming in, they also have to make up the loss, in today's dollars, created by the tax rate rollback.)

There are three kinds of levies schools can seek.  Omitting details for the sake of simplicity, assuming there was a 1% levy in place and at the time it was passed your home was worth $80,000.  Now, 10 years later, your home is worth $120,000.

  1. Renewal Levy:  At 1%, in the year it passed, you would have owed $800 a year.  At 10 years, in order to keep the amount of money you owe the same, the rate is adjusted downward to 2/3 %  (2/3% of $120,000 = $800).  This downward adjustment applies to the original levy (which is also periodically adjusted during its life) and to any renewal of that levy.  Typical campaign literature will promote the fact that this is not a new tax, or that this levy will not cost you any more money.
  2. Replacement Levy:   A replacement levy allows the school to reset the tax rate to catch up to inflation.  A 1% replacement levy will now generate $1200 (1% of your now $120,000 home).  Even though your tax is now $1200, it is only $400 more than you are currently paying - which is how the school districts will likely advertise it - an increase of only $400/year for the average homeowner).  
  3. New Levy: The most drastic option is a new levy.  A 1% new levy would generate $1200 a year in new money to the schools.  Just as a replacement levy is a harder sell than a renewal levy, a new levy is a harder sell than a replacement levy, because the entire $1200 (in our 1% example) is a new cost to the voters, rather than just the bump up from whatever was already being collected.

Those concerned about details, who understand HB 920, will recognize that this is a gross simplification and I have deliberately avoided too many terms I would need to explain.  It is faithful to the underlying concepts which most of us don't really understand.  I think the general lack of understanding that schools steadily lose spending power, as the tax rate is rolled back because of this law, contributes to the complaints that the schools need to stop asking for "more" money.

And, FWIW, I agree that as long as property taxes are the main source of income for the schools, HB 920 needs to be repealed.

 

 
Peter Comings
on Apr 17, 2012

Larry, Nancy, thanks for joining in. An understanding of HB920 is critical in this.

 
Expand This Thread
Peter Comings
on Apr 13, 2012 - 12:42 pm

Many will be invited to take part in this conversation, the gist of which is this: Ohio's school funding formula is unconstitutional. While little appears to be in the works to fix that, school districts and their residents are perhaps evermore at odds on how to use the money that districts collect and whether they should be approved to collect more.

What's broken? How can it be fixed? How can school districts and residents find ways to work together rather than allow themselves to be at odds?

Those invited to participate (and all are welcome to) include superintendents Michael Shoaf (Rocky River), Dan Keenan (Westlake), Robert Scott (Avon Lake), Will Folger (Brookside) and Larry Brown (North Ridgeville); Reps. Matt Lundy and Nan Baker; Rocky River resident Chuck Bartsche and Westlake school board member Nate Cross.

I would only ask for anyone joining to provide enough personal or professional background so that participants can understand who you are in the conversation.

Thanks in advance to all who might join.

 

Responses(1)

Jason Segedy
on Apr 16, 2012

Wasn't the lottery (i.e. regressive tax on the poor and gullible) supposed to solve all of our school funding problems?

Sorry, I couldn't help it.

Whatever needs to be done, please let "selling naming rights" to corporations not be a strategy for providing additional funding for our schools. "Fast Food Nation" talks about such abominations, and we see the very same mentality going on right now with ODOT floating the idea of selling naming rights to our roads and bridges. 

 
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