Governor John Kasich’s new plan to fund schools was greeted with a sigh of relief yesterday.
It promises no cuts to schools, and instead plans to invest $1.2 billion in education over the next two years.
But now, school superintendents and education advocates are left with a lot of questions.
In the last budget two years ago, schools saw a reduction of $1.6 billion.
That led to cuts in school services and a constant flow of levy issues on ballots statewide.
So superintendents were thrilled to hear Kasich say he’s going to invest in education, and what’s more, that the plan is fully funded from the general budget and lottery funds.
Kasich’s plan includes $300 million in competitive grants, additional money for disabled and poor students and for English language learners.
It also promises more money for charter schools and a new voucher program.
And, perhaps most significantly, 96 percent of districts are eligible for increased state funding because they can raise less local money due to low property values.
“This is not like some difficult thing to figure out,” Kasich said at a presentation of his plan earlier this week. “If you’re poor, you’re going to get more. If you’re rich, you’re going to get less.”
That’s music to Robert Stabile’s ears.
“I didn’t think this would ever happen,” says Stabile, an Ohio school-funding expert.
“They’re seriously addressing the disparity in property tax wealth in the state.”
Stabile says the plan would finally deal with the long-standing problem with Ohio’s schools: That wealthy districts can raise a lot more from local property taxes than poor districts, and critics say, as a result, their schools are much better.
“I just hope to God they have all the money to do the things they hope to do,” Stabile says.
Exactly where all that money would come from should be revealed when Gov. Kasich announces his ’s two-year budget proposal Monday.
Clarification: In the last budget two years ago, schools saw a reduction of $1.6 billion, due in part to the expiration of federal programs like the stimulus package, and in part to reductions from the state.