Prepared Text for Board Meeting

April 27, 2009

Marc A. Schare

614 791-0067 Work - 614 791-1779 Fax

marc9@aol.com

 

Having gone through the modifications to the Governorís education proposal, tonight, I want to discuss items of concern in the House substitute for HB1, the Ohio budget. Jennifer, Jeff and I discussed many of these issues with Rep. Carney from the House finance committee this afternoon.

 

First, letís make some assumptions. These concerns address the coming biennium only. While the House plans a 10 year phase-in, it is fair to say that the next 4 legislatures and the next two governors will tweak or rewrite the plan in the years ahead, although it is worth noting that according to the Legislative Service Commission, in order to pay for the plan, even in the next biennium, the state would have to raise income taxes by 24% or raise sales taxes by 37%, and it is further worth noting that the likelihood of our school district getting even a small piece of those funds is pretty small.
Here are some specific concerns vis-a-vis the substitute HB1 in the upcoming biennium.

1)
Worthington would be on the transitional aid guarantee for the biennium. This would appear to be a best case scenario as far as state funding, however, HB1 locks in our losses due to autism/community school scholarships at the current levels regardless of how many kids attend these schools. Financially, this may be a good thing for us but it does put us in the position of having to recommend outsourcing new students with special needs because of financial reasons. For example, for each student with autism that we successfully direct away from our district, we save the cost of educating that student. The funds that would normally flow to us for educating that student will, under this budget, continue to flow to other districts instead. If this were to occur, the prudent course of action would be to cultivate relationships with charter schools in the area, although I doubt thatís what the House had in mind.



2) The elimination of the ability to charge for all day kindergarten would cost us between $750K and a million dollars a year, plus, we would have to reconfigure buildings to comply with the mandate.  Rep. Carney assured us today that this would be removed from the bill. Time will tell.


 



3) The House Bill removes the sanctions against school districts who do not comply with the Evidence Based Model. Lacking these, I'm curious what our motivation would be to comply. There is no real "evidence" that a 15-1 (or 19-
1 in the House Bill) class size really accomplishes much of anything. In addition, the House Bill hints at waivers for excellent and effective school districts without going into any detail. If the components of the model are not required, you are effectively changing one funding formula for another and I'm not sure what the point of that might be. If, on the other hand, we are required to comply, the class size mandates would be extremely expensive. Rep. Carney did not believe it would be possible to insert language regarding waiver guarantees.

4) The House Bill removes our ability to
RIF teachers for financial reasons. If we cannot pass levies, exactly how do the House Democrats expect us to balance the budget?

5) A back of the napkin calculation shows that for each new day required in the school calendar, it will cost us around $250K for teachers alone. The bill isn't clear when the initial increment of 2 additional days would come. It hints that it would be at the end of our existing collective bargaining agreement. If it does come in this biennium, however, that's $500K that we don't have for 2 additional days that we don't need, especially if the 5 calamity days are removed. Note that if you remove the calamity days, we get back up to 5 instructional days per year that we are already paying for, accomplishing to Governorís objectives for this biennium with a much smaller incremental expense.



I sent a note detailing some of these concerns to Rep. Bacon as well, but according to Rep. Carney, there is little opportunity to amend the bill before it gets to the Senate. His advice is that our district would be best served by passing a resolution detailing those issues where we can reach consensus. In addition, I suggest meeting with both Senator Hughes and Senator Goodman as the bill makes its way to the Senate. The final result will doubtless be crafted during a conference committee in late May or June.