Prepared Text for Board Meeting

April 13, 2009

Marc A. Schare

614 791-0067 Work - 614 791-1779 Fax

marc9@aol.com

 

Tonight, I want to share some thoughts on possible local impacts to HB1 and the Governorís rewrite of the school funding formula. Iíll focus the discussion on a handful of issues.

 

Since HB1 was first introduced, a firestorm of criticism has formed around the fact that the proposal benefits suburban districts more than rural districts, primarily because of the reduction of the charge off from 23 mills to 20 mills. In addition, everyone agrees that the teacher salary calculation used in HB1 is low and that the use of the correct average salary figure is unaffordable. As a result, the Ohio House will likely change the formula in ways that will be harmful to Worthington. That said, there is one place where Worthington could benefit. HB1 contains a provision that would directly fund education choice scholarships and autism scholarships directly from state money, rather than using local districts as a pass though mechanism. This may be our single best opportunity for new state revenue through cost avoidance. Hopefully, this provision will survive as it could mean a net gain in excess of a million dollars per year.

 

HB1 calls for Worthington to submit a spending plan showing how our state funds are being spent on the individual components of the Evidence Based Model, however, it is not clear if local dollars must be used to supplement those state funds. While HB1 specifically lays out penalties for not implementing the model, recent correspondence to Superintendents seem to be less prescriptive in tone, at least in the short term. This is the key issue for us. If we are forced to implement the model with no additional state dollars, we would have to use local dollars and by definition, if we are using those dollars to satisfy new mandates, we canít use them for anything else. HB1 does contain provisions for waivers but eventually, those waivers would run out.

 

To be clear, my biggest fear and the most likely scenario is that weíll get the mandates but not the money and our local resources will have to be diverted towards compliance with state mandates rather than the continuation or enhancement of our program.

 

HB1 faces a very uncertain future in the Ohio Senate so itís fair to say that the substitute introduced in the House will again be changed. With any proposal, there will be winners and losers, but as far as Iím concerned, mandates without money is a recipe for disaster and all district residents should keep Senator Goodman and Senator Hughes on speed dial because while the Governorís plan may or may not be an improvement over the status quo, the requirement to spend money we donít have for things we donít need at the cost of dismantling our existing program would be tragic.