Local educators wait for funding details

Springfield area superintendents praise Kasich plan but reserve judgment until details emerge.

Local superintendents say they remain optimistic as new details of Gov. John Kasich’s education plan emerge but need their individual district’s funding projections — expected later this week — before making final determinations about the changes.

“We want to see the numbers because that’s what makes all the difference,” said Springfield City School District Superintendent David Estrop. “My understanding is we’re supposed to see the numbers this week, and at that point we’ll be able to make more definitive comments. Absent that, it is nothing more than concepts until we can see the actual dollars put into whatever the formula is that has been constructed.”

Kasich’s plan calls for no district to receive less funding next year than it did this year, targeted aid for students that typically cost more to educate like English language learners and students with disabilities and state aid to equalize every district’s basic funding costs regardless of their property values.

“I think if he does what he says it’s going to do, I think it will benefit some of the poorer kids,” said Tecumseh Superintendent Brad Martin. “It will help out the kids who really need the funding.”

Estrop said that based on a district’s property values, one mill levied can raise as much as three times more than what one mill raises in Springfield. Kasich’s plan to equalize funding would eliminate those gaps between rich and poor districts.

“Any time they level a mill in Beavercreek, they get about three times as much money as Springfield does for each mill,” Estrop said. “The idea of equalizing that becomes a very important concept and one that would benefit Springfield tremendously.”

Kasich’s “Achievement Everywhere” plan calls for increases in overall funding of about 6 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 2.7 percent the following year.

“I’m optimistic about Gov. Kasich’s plan, however, I don’t have enough details yet about the funding plan itself to know how it’s going to positively affect Northwestern,” said Tony Orr, superintendent of Northwestern Local Schools. “I’m anxious to see the full details and an exact figure on how it may impact us.”

Some superintendents have concerns about a plan to expand the state’s EdChoice voucher system to include more students, regardless of their home district’s performance on the state report card.

“I certainly am not opposed to choice,” said Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Gregg Morris. “I’m opposed to public dollars directly going to choice and hampering what the public schools can do. It looks like there’s going to be a cap on the expansion, but there is going to be an expansion and that concerns me.”

Morris commended Kasich’s efforts to address inadequacies in the current funding system.

“It seems like he really had a sincere desire to provide a basic level (of funding) for all students across the state,” he said. “It’s really, really difficult for the state to be fair, but it appears that he’s trying to do that.”

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