The dice are rolling at casinos in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo and a fourth casino opens this spring in Cincinnati.
Some of the casinos’ revenues are to fund education, and the first round of those payments has been handed out.
But that doesn’t mean local schools have hit the jackpot.
The first round of casino school funding totaled $38 million.
Divided between the states 1.8 million students that comes to just under $21 per child.
The Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio School Boards Association surveyed school officials around the state about their extra revenue from the casinos and found the new funds do not exceed two percent of any district’s budget. For most schools, it’s less than one percent.
“While we are very grateful that this is another source of revenue to help local school districts, we do not want it to be perceived that it was the solution to school funding for the future for school districts,” says David Varda with the Ohio Association of School Board Officials.
He says in the 80’s, voters approved the lottery with promises of increased school funding.
In the end, he says, “school districts were fighting the notion among community members that if you had this lottery money you didn’t need any local tax levies and then eventually what the state did is that the lottery money was just used to fund a portion of the state’s funding of schools.”
Basically, the legislature saw it as a way to reduce the state’s portion of school funding.
Schools didn’t get any extra money, but they did have a harder time passing levies.
Governor Kasich’s is expected to unveil his new school funding formula in the next few weeks.
Some school officials are concerned the legislature will once again look at the new casino funds and reduce the state’s contribution.
Varda says the extra money will have some impact, helping save a teaching position here or an extracurricular program there.