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More on school funding

Here's an article that summarizes much of what I've been soapboxing about for the last few months. If you care about this issue as much as I do, I'd ask that you (at very least) think about sharing this on your FB wall. Honestly, we NEED to demand a change out of Columbus!

COMMENTARY

Public schools shortchanged at our peril

BY MARILOU JOHANEK
BLADE COMMENTARY WRITER

Schools are the canary in the community, penned an astute letter writer from one of the countless Ohio communities with school levies on the May 3 ballot. What a perfect analogy. Yet unlike the canary in a coal mine, closely monitored as a harbinger of coming crisis, the fiscal condition of public schools in the state is ignored by policy makers who are unwilling to give the crisis an urgent response.

But the near financial collapse of some districts may force Columbus to reconsider its indifference. Until Gov. John Kasich's proposed budget yanked life-support funding from schools and left educators in budget-induced shock, people liked to pretend that the gasping canary in their midst wasn't that sick.

They assumed the cornerstone of the community could take even more abuse, get by with less, and still make quantum leaps in academic excellence. What a perfect illusion. But it worked for Mr. Kasich and Republican lawmakers, who took teachers down a few notches and cut school funding to ludicrous levels.

Not surprisingly, hundreds of school districts throughout the state are sounding early warning signals of coming fiscal disaster. Voters are bracing themselves for a tidal wave of school levy requests. It's dej? vu all over again, only worse.

On Tuesday, many Ohio districts will again be looking at local property taxes to generate revenue. Forget funding to advance academic quality or introduce innovative new programs to challenge and prepare the next generation.

Schools will overwhelm voters with levy appeals just to stay open and soften the blow of state budget cuts, the loss of one-time-only federal stimulus funds, and further revenue reductions, such as state tangible personal property tax reimbursement. With few funding options left, schools have no choice but to go begging to voters for help.

The K-12 canary cannot survive without local support. Ohio's school funding method is uneven, unfair, and unconstitutional. It shifts the burden of school funding to local taxpayers and away from the state.

The state has done little to fix the school funding formula and there is no hurry by Mr. Kasich and Company to find a way to pay for public schools without burdening tapped-out property owners.

School levies, seemingly on every election ballot, are increasingly defeated. Gone are the days when local residents believed nothing was too good for their school district.

In the last decade or so, education has been downgraded to a dispensable public service. Sweeping school cutbacks were accepted as inevitable.

Pay-to-play athletics is about the only change that raises a ruckus. But fewer teachers and textbooks, and cuts in transportation, equipment, and class offerings-- not so much.

Schools continue to gut budgets, lay off staff, and cancel programs. Administrators hold community meetings to explain dismal projections and present a dilemma without an answer. The fallback is painfully predictable: Property taxes remain the major source of school funding even though the practice has been ruled unconstitutional four times.

Property owners still carry the weight of financing public education in Ohio despite the hardship of a lingering recession, lost income, and lower home values. Those who feel powerless to fight their economic fate can at least exert control over a big part of public spending with a "no" vote.

More than a few school levies have failed because of pent-up public frustration with a punishing recession. Any excuse to say "no" to supporting local schools -- teachers make too much money, retirement plans are too generous, schools should just cut back like the rest of us -- suffices.

Even residents who can afford what a levy would cost jump on the bandwagon against it, because selfishness masquerades as fiscal courage in some circles. And so it goes. Schools cut spending, positions, and programs.

One school superintendent called the future that faces his district "academic Armageddon."

Ohio's school funding formula is simply not sustainable. Mr. Kasich's budget proposal is blind to the emergency that's killing the canary in our communities and taking us down with it.

For the sake of our children's education, we can't accept a system that can only do less with less. It's past time to demand more.

 

Re: More on school funding

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    As someone moving from another state and entirely different system I am so incredibly overwhelmed with how schools are funded here.

    If the primary, neigh- ONLY source for the schools are local property taxes what happens in poor communities?  They just deal and go without?  How is that the kids fault?  If you live an area with a lot of federal housing there won't be hardly any property taxes to fund schools!

    Again, not sure how it works but it seems like an incredible burden for homeowners to totally fund the schools.  Didn't I read as well that the elderly get a homestead exemption on part of their property taxes?

    My husband and I are looking at our budget and our income taxes are dropping dramatically moving here.  Something like $200-$300 a month most likely- why not institute an income tax for helping to support school systems?  In the end this means even though our property taxes are going to be double, we will still be coming out ahead.

    Again, I am confused as I don't have anything to do with school systems here and from what I have tried to research/read leads me to believe our children will be going to private schools but the information you find is so strange and doesn't correlate.

    Our poor kids.

     

    image Momma to Ms. C age 16 months and Mr. C age 3 months!
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    imageKittahMama:

    As someone moving from another state and entirely different system I am so incredibly overwhelmed with how schools are funded here.

    If the primary, neigh- ONLY source for the schools are local property taxes what happens in poor communities?  They just deal and go without?  How is that the kids fault?  If you live an area with a lot of federal housing there won't be hardly any property taxes to fund schools!

    Again, not sure how it works but it seems like an incredible burden for homeowners to totally fund the schools.  Didn't I read as well that the elderly get a homestead exemption on part of their property taxes?

    My husband and I are looking at our budget and our income taxes are dropping dramatically moving here.  Something like $200-$300 a month most likely- why not institute an income tax for helping to support school systems?  In the end this means even though our property taxes are going to be double, we will still be coming out ahead.

    Again, I am confused as I don't have anything to do with school systems here and from what I have tried to research/read leads me to believe our children will be going to private schools but the information you find is so strange and doesn't correlate.

    Our poor kids.

     

    I am not as educated as I would like to be on this subject, but you mention using income taxes to help with funding. Some districts do this. The ones which had levies on the ballott and have passed. I live in a district with no school income tax, but my parents pay 1% of their wages to their school district.
    6/28/10: Lost our sweet baby Addyston at 18wk 1day to pPROM 7/24/11: Michael William born at 24wk 2d due to IC after an emergent cerclage at 18wks, 4wk home BR and 2 weeks hospital BR. Grow strong our little Miracle! 9/17/11: Michael joined his sister in heaven after 8 amazing weeks with us on earth. He fought a very hard fight but NEC was too much for him in the end. Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
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    Tricia -- do you have a link to this article?

    ETA:  nevermind.  I'm a dumbass -- I see your clicky link now. Embarrassed

    Justin Thomas joined us on 8.4.07
    Tyler Anthony arrived on 9.21.09
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    The Chronicles of Justin and Tyler
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    Kittah--yes there is a homestead tax break for seniors....we were getting it for a year (unknowingly) from the previous owners and they county just caught it so our property taxes went up $800 for the year.
    image

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