Prepared Text for Board Meeting (HB1 thoughts)

June 8, 2009

Marc A. Schare

614 791-0067

Work - 614 791-1779 Fax

marc9@aol.com

 

 

Folks, Iím sure that we all know the status of the Ohio budget bill, a version of which has passed the Senate, will be rejected by the House and wind up in a conference committee. David has repeatedly offered time for us to discuss the bill and its impacts on Worthington.

 

Here are my current thoughts on the subject.

 

First, according to published news reports, both the House plan and the Senate plan are out of balance by as much as 2 billion dollars, this despite the Senate cutting about a Billion dollars from the house budget. A billion dollars is a big number and the conference committee will either have to make those cuts or maintain the rosy revenue projections that led to the creation of the budget in the first place and then make the cuts next year when the revenues do not materialize. A third possibility is a general tax increase which, according to Democrats and Republicans alike is unlikely to happen.

 

Because of this, I see little value in a debate between fictitious budget ďAĒ and fictitious budget ďBĒ, nor do I see us as being able to materially influence the outcome of the conference so unless other board members have a desire to get into the details of HB1 or the Evidence Based Model, Iím content to leave it alone for this evening, although I have to make one comment.

 

Iím very disappointed with the EBM and how this entire process has been politicized, and needlessly so. When I look at the EBM, I see a state willing to fund nurses we may never be required to hire, I see a state willing to fund class sizes we may never be required to implement, I see a state willing to fund counselors that we may or may not needand I see carte blanche being given to the State Department of Education to potentially implement a whole raft of unfunded mandates. Even if you buy into the EBM, the bill institutes the Educational Challenge Factor to make sure that rich suburban school districts donít benefit ďtoo muchĒ under the model and the fact that mandates may be dependent on external factors which calls into question the evidence behind the model.

 

For their part, the Ohio Senate did much of what we asked them to do, including the permanent reimbursement of tangible personal property taxes and the maintenance of several issues regarding teacher professionalization. The problem is, I no more believe that this can be fully funded than I do that the Governorís plan will be fully funded and I think both sides are playing politics in a game that school districts canít afford to lose.

 

Here is what I think needs to happen. We need to divorce the EBM from the funding model. Odden testified that it was possible to implement his model using a per pupil funding system. If an organizational-centric system is best for Ohioís future, another two years is not going to make a difference. We also need to divorce the EBM from the broader subject of charter schools, which is where most of the politicization comes from and finally, if state budgets are going to contain multi-year spending plans and promises, there needs to be some indication of how this can be paid for. It is entirely possible that Worthington will be in a position of including prospective dollars in our forecast that are unlikely to ever materialize, that we will be basing sustainability decisions on those plan and have to make sharp cuts when the bill comes due and the money isnít there.