There is $62 billion in the Ohio's General Revenue Fund. It's at an all-time high, said State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), yet only 27 percent of it is allocated to K-12 education.
Clyde held a town hall meeting Monday at Ravenna High School to a group of citizens, educators and parents to discuss this budget, focusing primarily on how these cuts are affecting local school districts.
The first budget proposal Gov. John Kasich introduced cut the amount of funding K-12 education would get by $1.8 billion, Clyde said. Kasich increased the amount by $1 billion the next year. While it's an increase, it still leaves the budget about $1 billion short of what is needed. These cuts left 60 percent of districts with no new money.
A majority of the cuts went to the poorer districts, Clyde said, while charter schools are still getting considerably more money. Charter schools show less success than public schools, and 84 percent of the students had transferred from a public school rated much higher. Still, charter schools receive $7,100 per student, while public schools receive $3,300 per student.
Dennis Honkala, superintendent of the Ravenna School District, stated that it will be one of several hundred districts to be on the ballot with a levy because of a $3.5 million loss of funding. "The need isn't going to go away. We can't spend the money we don't have."
Honkala talked about the number of spending cuts the district has been doing. It refrained from replacing five teachers and two administrators after their retirements. It will be closing Tappan Elementary School for the 2013-14 school year, and leasing it out to another education entity.
Chuck Klamer, superintendent of James A. Garfield Local School District, discussed how they have to increase their spending on Common Core, which includes additional training of teachers and administrators. The largest expense for schools is personnel, including salaries.
Klamer said leaders of these initiatives are disconnected with the schools. "Garfield received the rating of Excellent with Distinction for the past three years and we just received a letter of congratulations from the state superintendent from last year."
Clyde emphasized the amount of support she gives to education.
"There are tax breaks for the wealthiest Ohio citizens, while the funding for K-12 education is being continually cut," she said. "Our priorities aren't right."