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Twinsburg school officials 'skeptical' of state funding plan

by Andrew Schunk | Editor Published: February 7, 2013 12:00 AM
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Twinsburg -- Though it is not yet known how the new school funding plan rolled out by Ohio Gov. John Kasich Jan. 31 will affect the Twinsburg School District, school officials here are ambivalent about the ideas presented at this point.

"I'm skeptical," said district treasurer Martin Aho. "It's not like the state has any more money to do anything with."

The governor's plan would provide increased funding for poorer school districts statewide, through a new formula that takes into account property values and income levels.

The focus of the governor's plan, Aho says, is on less-wealthy districts, and Twinsburg, with an overall property valuation of $762 million, is not considered less wealthy.

Kasich stated when he unveiled the plan: "If you are poor, you're going to get more. If you are richer, you're going to get less. ... If you have disabled students, you're going to get help. If you have gifted students, you're going to get help."

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"We're not going to see much positive from the plan in our district," Aho said.

The plan still requires approval from the Ohio House and Senate, and Aho said the last time the governor's budget came out it underwent major changes (Kasich presented a $63 billion spending plan for the state Feb. 5).

"I think it's going to change a lot by the time it's approved," he said.

Board of Education member David Andrews said he is "trying to hang on to the positives" with the governor's plan, but also cautions that it's just too early to tell the ramifications.

"We can't say what it's going to mean for Twinsburg at this point," Andrews said. "It's not likely that we're going to see any significant increase. The one positive I did hear is that no school district will receive less than they had been receiving."

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The state funds from the tangible personal property tax (which has seen a freeze in its phase-out, a good sign for Twinsburg, Andrews said), are virtually negligible at this point for Twinsburg. However, the local district does receive state funds from other avenues, including money for disabled students, gifted students and those learning the English language -- all student demographics that will continue to receive money from the state, Kasich said Jan. 31.

In 2006, the tangible personal property tax comprised about $9.8 million, or about 25 percent, of the district's $40 million budget. In 2012, it comprised .006 percent, or $24,000, of the district's $41.3 million budget, according to the Twinsburg treasurer's office.

"We're just going to have to reserve judgment as to how this is going to affect Twinsburg," Andrews said. "All of this is subject to the legislative process ... this is not the end of what we're going to see."

More than 600 school districts across the state have been awaiting a new funding philosophy from Ohio's administrators and legislators. Voters in the Twinsburg School District passed a 4.9-mill, $3.8 million operations levy last fall, which, along with $3.2 million in cuts, layoffs and pay-to-participate fees implemented last year, helped bridge a $7 million budget gap for the district.

The schools also have a 6.9-mill, $4.4 million levy first passed in 1993 up for renewal this May.

The state is set to release its per-district breakdown this week, check back at www.twinsburgbulletin.com for more on this story.

"We're supposed to be given the spreadsheets with data this week," superintendent Kathryn Powers said. "Until then, we're hesitant to project anything.

"We're not expecting to see a windfall here."

Editor's Note: Capital Bureau Chief Marc Kovac contributed to this report.

Email: aschunk@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9424

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