July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Mixed results for cash coming to local school districts

Gov. John Kasich’s proposed school funding formula contains some good news for Medina County’s city school districts and not so much for the rural ones.

Three out of seven Medina County school districts could see funding increases based on Kasich’s proposed formula, according to spreadsheets released Wednesday by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management.

Mike Mayell

Brunswick Schools would see the greatest increase, with about $2.16 million more from the state over the two-year plan, an 11.4 percent increase.

Wadsworth and Medina school districts would see smaller state funding increases, with Wadsworth getting $946,713, a 6.9 percent increase, and Medina getting $428,428, a 2.9 percentage increase.

Brunswick Superintendent Mike Mayell cautioned that the numbers were “potentially good news.”

“Those things change overnight,” he said. “We very easily could get a zero percent raise if there’s reductions in other areas.”

Mayell said Brunswick has lost between $7.5 million and $8 million in state funding over the last three years.

“We’re pleased with the initial numbers that we see,” he said. “We’re also very cautious.”

Jim Hudson, who works as treasurer for both Medina and Cloverleaf school districts, said, “Even though Medina looks like we may get some additional funding, it doesn’t make up for what we were originally funded in 2009.”

He said Medina has lost $1.7 million a year since 2009.

Under the formula, districts are rewarded for growth in enrollment, state officials have explained.

Barbara Mattei-Smith, Kasich’s assistant policy director for education, said in a statement: “Those districts that have seen massive student population growth in recent years also see corresponding funding increases, since dollars follow the child. … Even after those increases, low-wealth districts still receive the largest proportional share of state funds.

“On the other hand, districts that have seen shrinking student populations would have seen potentially destabilizing funding cuts without the governor’s insistence on guaranteeing them at least as much money as they received last year.”

Buckeye, Highland, Black River and Cloverleaf schools will see no funding increases from the state.

Jim Lynch, special adviser on state budget communications, said schools that see a 0 percent increase will not lose money under the plan.

“The continuation of ‘guarantee funds’ allows no district to receive less in formula state aid than it did in the current 2013 fiscal year,” he said.

Lynch said those districts still will have an opportunity to apply for “Straight A” funds, which reward districts that help students improve their achievement levels or increase their operational efficiency.

Black River Superintendent Janice Wyckoff said she was disappointed with the projections.

“It seems like all Gov. Kasich did was help the suburban and large urban areas and somehow left behind the country schools,” she said.

Wyckoff said that poverty is not limited to cities.

“Rural areas have many issues dealing with poverty, too,” she said.

Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said that even though the numbers aren’t final, “I find it difficult to fathom a formula that provides a zero percent increase to a district that has had to bear unprecedented levels of reductions.”

Kubilus said he remains hopeful that Cloverleaf may see some relief.

“I will not lose optimism that changes won’t occur over the next several months, and that’s where I’m at right now.”

Hudson said that for Cloverleaf, the state guarantees $2.1 million in funds for fiscal year 2014 and 2015, but he said he isn’t sure what will happen to funding after that.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.