Eastwood school officials plan to cut spending next year by $500,000 and another $700,000 for the 2011-12 school year to meet anticipated losses of state revenue, Superintendent Brent Welker has warned district residents.
His words became even more prophetic after State Representative Randy Gardner issued a memo recently to area school superintendents that include dire funding scenarios in state aid.
Rep. Gardner projects major cuts in state aid unless a major tax increase is enacted, significant new gambling revenues are realized, or the federal government provides even more stimulus money.
The projections in Rep. Gardner’s memo came as little surprise to Welker, who notes in his district newsletter that he and the Eastwood board have been expecting a 10 percent or so reduction in state funding for Eastwood for the 2011-12 school year.
“This will equate to roughly $600,000,” he writes. “I have also stated that in a worst case scenario, we can expect an additional 10 percent reduction for 2012-13. With the loss of Troy Energy funds after 2013, the overall impact to our revenues will be between $1.2 and $1.8 million per year over our current expenses.”
Gardner’s memo says area schools are likely to see cuts in state funding of between 22.7 percent and 30.1 percent in the budget that will go into effect July, 2011 unless the tax increase, gambling revenue, or stimulus funding scenarios happen.
The forecast of a 22.7 percent drop accepts a projection by Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration of more than $1 billion in higher state tax revenue in the next budget, the memo says, and the 30.1 percent drop is based on a projection of no growth in state tax receipts over the next two years.
A rating system is used by the state to allocate school funding. Called the Educational Challenge Factor (ECF), it provides more funding – or smaller reductions in the coming budget - for higher rated (more significant challenges) schools than those districts with lower ratings.
Gardner estimates 14 of 17 school districts in Wood and Lucas counties have relatively low ECF ratings.
His memo includes estimates by the Ohio Department of Education with the reductions:
• A 22.7 percent reduction for Eastwood equals $1.4 million, which would drop the district’s estimated state aid for fiscal year 2011 from $6.38 million to $4.93 million. A 30.1 percent drop would be about $1.92 million.
• A 22.7 percent reduction of Woodmore schools equals $747,235, which would drop the district’s estimated state aid for fiscal year 2011 from $3.28 million to $2.5 million. A 30.1 percent drop would be just under $1 million.
• A 22.7 percent reduction for Genoa schools equals $1.3 million, which would drop the district’s estimated state aid for fiscal year 2011 from $5.7 million to $4.4 million. A 30.1 percent drop would be $1.7 million
• A 22.7 percent reduction for Gibsonburg schools equals $1.28 million, which would drop the district’s estimated state aid for fiscal year 2011 from $5.63 million to $4.35 million. A 30.1 percent drop would be $1.7 million.
• A 22.7 percent reduction for Lake schools equals $937,472, which would drop the district’s estimated state aid for fiscal year 2011 from $4.12 million to $3.2 million. A 30.1 percent drop would be $1.24 million.
For Rep. Gardner, the figures justify a bill he introduced that gives local school boards more say in matters such as offering all-day, everyday kindergarten classes and student-teacher ratios without having to ask for waivers from the state.
“Schools should not be expected to accept new unfunded spending mandates at a time of almost certain significant state funding cuts,” his memo says.
Superintendent Welker is telling Eastwood residents the district can survive the cuts he and the boards anticipate but renewals of an emergency levy in May and an income tax next year are crucial.
Without those revenue sources, he says, “We will face cuts that will gut this district.”
In May, voters in the Genoa district will decide a 1 percent, 5-year income tax issue. If approved, the school board will drop millage from the tax rolls to ease the burden on property owners.
Woodmore voters will decide a 2.99-mill, 5-year property tax issue.