Woodridge School District officials discuss state funding proposal

by Phil Keren | editor Published:

Peninsula -- It looks like the Woodridge Local School District will get some additional state money during the next two years. Exactly how much remains to be seen.

In its first School Board meeting since Gov. John Kasich issued his Achievement Everywhere state funding formula proposal, Woodridge Local School District officials examined the projected figures and how it would affect the district's growing population.

Gov. Kasich introduced the Achievement Everywhere strategy on Jan. 31.

The proposed state funding formula is predicated on a standard of providing funding of $5,000 per student, said Woodridge Local School District Treasurer Deanna Levenger in a presentation to the Board of Education Feb. 19. She said the figure for what the district would receive next year is derived from "a combination of state and local taxes."

She also noted the average cost per pupil for all public schools in Summit County is $10,523, and the cost per pupil in Woodridge is $11,570, according to figures from the Ohio Department of Education.

For more than a decade, Woodridge has "been a guarantee district," said Levenger, "because we would generate more money off of our local taxes than they could calculate on the state taxes." This means the district was guaranteed to receive a certain amount of state funding from year to year.

With the reshaping of the formula that is proposed by Gov. Kasich, Levenger told the Falls News-Press the district will "get equal to what your guarantee [amount] was, or more than [that amount]," and "actually get [additional] state money … because we actually qualify under the new funding formula."

While the governor's proposed formula takes Woodridge off the "guarantee," and allows the district to "see some extra money," Levenger said she feels it will not alleviate the district's reliance on locally-based revenue "because no one runs a school on $5,000 a student."

Under the governor's proposal, part of House Bill 59 (the state's biennial budget), Woodridge is slated to receive $1,080,736 in per pupil state funding in Fiscal Year 2014, which is $37,980 (or 3.6 percent) more than what the district received in Fiscal Year 2013.

The district's 2012-13 general fund budget is about $22.6 million.

Levenger said spreadsheets distributed by the state indicated the district was going to receive a 129 percent increase in fiscal year 2014. However, she noted that the state used $472,061 instead of $1,042,756 -- the amount the state is providing this year -- as the basis for the 129-percent calculation.

"We don't know where those numbers come from," said Levenger.

For Fiscal Year 2015, the projected per pupil state funding for Woodridge is $1,350,920, an increase of $270,184 (or 25 percent) from 2014. Such an increase, if it goes through, would be "appreciated," said Levenger.

Levenger also noted that the amount the district has received from the State Basic Aid Foundation has declined by 13.8 percent since 2004.

She added the per pupil foundation funding for the district has also decreased -- by 26 percent -- since 2004. In 2004, the district received $693.93 per pupil and in 2013, the district will receive $513.42 per pupil, according to Levenger.

While state funding has declined during the past decade, district enrollment rose by 19 percent from Fiscal Year 2000 to Fiscal Year 2012, said Levenger. In 2000, the district had 1,691 students; This year, the district is projected to have 2,031 students.

"It's a starting point," Levenger said of the proposed formula. "We'll just have to see what happens."

"While we do anticipate seeing a little bit of an increase, that increase … is due largely to the fact that we've increased enrollment," said District Superintendent Walter Davis.

Davis said he was pleased that, under the proposal, the Tangible Personal Property tax funds will remain the same in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.

"That would have been a catastrophe had that been eliminated," stated Davis, who added he was happy to see "transportation funding reinstated at prior levels."

Davis noted he was glad that there was the potential for more career tech funding.

"Over the years, there has seemed to be a less than adequate focus on career and technical education program funding on the part of the state," said Davis in an email to the Falls News-Press Feb. 21. "I am pleased that the new proposal from the governor offers some hope for new funds in this key area for public schools and career tech centers. I am hopeful that the Six District Educational Compact -- of which Woodridge is a member -- will benefit."

Since the Republican Party controls both houses in the state legislature, Davis said, "my guess is some form of this proposal will likely become law for the next two years."

However, the superintendent noted that two state senators from opposing parties at a recent meeting of Summit County superintendents "agreed that what we see today is not what the final [measure] will be and that … they will make changes to it."

Email: pkeren@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9421

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