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4 Portage County schools get boost under Kasich plan

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published: February 7, 2013 4:00 AM
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Four Portage County school districts are targeted to receive an increase in funding from Gov. John Kasich's plan for school funding reform.

The numbers behind Ohio's school funding reform were announced Wednesday.

The Ravenna School District is set to receive the greatest increase of Portage County districts -- more than $1.5 million extra for 2014 compared to fiscal year 2013. Of the other school districts receiving increased funds, about $858,000 will go to the Field Local School District, about $457,000 will go to the Aurora City School District and about $31,000 will go to the Streetsboro City School District.

The remainder of Portage County's school districts will see no change in funding from the previous state budget. No school districts across the state will see a reduction of funds from the previous budget.

Ravenna Superintendent Dennis Honkala pointed out that it's early in the process and it will be a long time before the bill becomes law, and it is too early to say if Ravenna actually will receive the $1.5 million increase.

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But he said the state funding will not delay a levy request expected to go on the November ballot. He noted that the district will have to begin the process of starting a levy campaign before the proposal goes into effect.

"This would be a short-term fix. It doesn't solve our financial problems," Honkala said.

If the proposal goes into effect, he expects funding to come as early as July.

Honkala's not sure why Ravenna seems to be targeted for such a large increase, but a recent conference call with the governor's office indicated that more funding would be given to lower-wealth districts. Regardless, Ravenna isn't spending the money just yet.

"I would caution anyone against making this into a long-term fix," he said. "I would encourage everyone to be really cautious and really patient."

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Kasich said last week that the state will provide increased funding for poorer school districts statewide.

Barbara Mattei-Smith, assistant policy director in the Kasich's education office, said Wednesday that distribution of funds to school districts is tied to changes in property valuation and enrollment, and in the past five years since a funding formula was in place, the state has seen significant shifts in those areas.

"We have had some fundamental shifts in what our districts look like over the course of the last five years, and the numbers reflect how people have moved, how property values have changed and, to a great extent, what is the capacity of these districts," Mattei-Smith said, noting that urban and suburban areas have generally seen decline in property values along with increased enrollment, while rural property values have increased.

The formula is based on what a 20-mill levy would generate in a district with property valuations of $250,000 per students.

"(Students in poorer districts) are getting the same opportunity as students in a district that has that $250,000 valuation per pupil," said Dick Ross, lead education adviser to Kasich. "It's about comparability and making sure that students in poor communities and with special needs are able to have the same opportunity."

The school funding reform plan also entails funding for pre-school youth in poverty, programs for the disabled, gifted students and creates a "Straight A" fund of $300 million in one-time grants for districts to improve their operations and reduce costs. Certain students also will have greater access to vouchers to attend private schools.

Kasich said the plan is fully funded, with about $7.4 billion and $7.7 billion in state general revenue and lottery money each year of the biennium, up from $6.9 billion this fiscal year.

Record-Courier reporter Diane Smith contributed to this story.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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anonymous Feb 7, 2013 7:09 PM

Maybe the city of ravenna could save a little money buy not having the plow trucks out with there plows down on wet roads and dumping some much salt so there isnt a snow day in ravenna they could use that money for the schools

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 3:14 PM

Again, I urge people to actually do the math from the chart up above. Even though a few "affluent" districts received more state funding under the new formula, they still receive a lot less per child than other districts. For instance, Aurora with the increase will only get $1,166 per child, Streetsboro $1,554 per child while Crestwood will receive $5045 per child and Waterloo $4,412 per child. Woodridge only $530 per child and Twinsburg only $1270 per child. Last time I checked the CUPPS report for Streetsboro and Crestwood, the median income level was the same. In fact, we have a much larger percentage of school children below the poverty level than other districts and still receive less funding. So, that means that the difference in what is spent per child comes out of our property tax money. Since in Streetsboro we also spend the third highest per child rate in Portage county, that means a lot of the money for the kids comes from the property owner. Schools that receive so much state money shouldn't be complaining. They should look at the CUPPS report from the Ohio Department of Education and do some real comparisions.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 1:36 PM

Did I miss something in the world?!?

How is it that one of the MOST affluent districts in Portage County ends up getting the biggest increase?!?

Not sure how Twinsburg and Woodridge qualify for their HUGE jumps in funding either! And Solon?? How do they qualify for any increase??

The old system made little sense, the new one make NO sense.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 8:39 AM

People really need to look at the numbers in this chart above. Look at what districts receive and look at the number of students. As you can see, even with the increases, Aurora and Streetsboro still receive less per student than many of the schools in Portage county. Again, alot of this is related to having businesses that are abated within a district. Look at how much Crestwood receives per student in comparison. Hopefully, Streetsboro residents will remember these numbers the next time the district asks for a levy to be passed. This isn't the states fault but the choices being made by the city and the BOE with abatements.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 8:33 AM

"Honkala's not sure why Ravenna seems to be targeted for such a large increase, but a recent conference call with the governor's office indicated that more funding would be given to lower-wealth districts."

Really? Your own super doesn't even know why?

I'll tell you why, because no one in Columbus knows what they are doing, that's why.

They need to look at Atwater and Randolph....maybe they'll find their lower-wealth district.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 8:33 AM

Unfortunately, the "we need more money from a levy" people are in all districts. In Streetsboro, we are always adding businesses that should equate to revenue BUT the city (with the consent of the school board) give these 10 year 100% tax abatements. Therefore, all these new businesses in Streetsboro do not contribute to our schools and the schools are ALWAYS asking the taxpayers to pay more and more. In fact, adding more abated businesses actually take away from what the state is willing to fund our district and the schools become even more reliant on the homeowner. Its certainly a poorly formatted system. Yet, no matter how much money you give a district, they always seem to be able to spend it all and be asking for more. With all the levies passed in Streetsboro, the BOE whines every month about going to need more revenues soon.

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 8:31 AM

"Kasich said last week that the state will provide increased funding for poorer school districts statewide".

So who is determining which school districts are considered poor? Since when is Aurora poor? And they are getting $457,000 and Waterloo has to scrape by with barely passing a levy that hasn't been passed in 17 years. This is insanity at it's finest.

Hey, here's a very novel and simple idea; why don't they just split it equally among all the districts and play fair? We're taught that before we even get to Kindergarten, play fair and share.

Our politicians are unreal!

123: you couldn't have said it any better. Ugh....

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 7:56 AM

I love how Dennis Honkala states it may take a long time before Ravenna receives the monies - if at all - therefore, they are still going to put the levy on the ballot. I am sick and tired of this City stating they are running out of money and need to ask the voters for more! If you would get some viable businesses in to the area - rather than non-profit groups - you're revenue will increase. Look at Kent, Streetsboro and even Brimfield - all around us they are "booming". Ravenna can't seem to get it! Then our property values are lowered - why - for the same reason as just stated! But my taxes haven't been lowered - and of course they will increase if the levy passes!

anonymous Feb 7, 2013 6:23 AM

I love how Kasich's school funding reform only helps certain schools. This guy in an idiot. Shouldn't a reform help everyone in the state not just select schools? How ironic that he calls his plan "Achievement Everywhere funding". What a joke!