July 30, 2014

Elyria
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School bosses want funding formula

ELYRIA — State Sen. Gayle Manning has asked for, but has not received, the formula used by Gov. John Kasich to dole out funds under his revamped school funding initiative.

“I have asked for the formula and I will get it to you,” state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, told school leaders Friday during a regular meeting at the Educational Service Center of Lorain County.

Manning, a former teacher, regularly meets with county school superintendents to discuss issues of concern.  During a brief discussion about the school funding issue, Manning said she hopes to have the details of the proposed funding bill soon.

“I want to be able to explain this,” she said. “I need to see the formula to have a full understanding of it.”

A member of the Ohio Senate Education Committee, Manning said she has not personally made phone calls or other direct inquiries on the school funding bill.

“My office, and the (Republican Senate) caucus have, but I have not done so yet,” Manning said. “I’ve got the (Turnpike) bill on my plate right now and that has to be acted on before the end of March. After that point, I will start making calls, but I’m sure we will have the information by then.”

Manning acknowledged she doesn’t know what the hold-up is in obtaining particulars of the funding formula.

State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, in an interview afterward as he generally does not attend the superintendents’ meeting, said he has made a public records request to get details of the bill.

“It has raised a lot of questions and it’s been very hard to get the details,” Lundy said.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols could not be reached for comment Friday.

During the discussion Friday, Avon Lake Schools Superintendent Bob Scott asked Manning how it was decided that his schools will receive $2.5 million in 2014, which is a

$1.1 million increase in state funds over last year.

“I still don’t know how they figured that one out,” Scott said.

The governor’s school funding bill, which totals $7.4 billion for 2013-14 and $7.7 billion for 2014-15, was touted as a way to equalize funding between rich and poor school systems.

But once the numbers came out showing who was getting what, it led to lots of questions and criticism over larger sums of state money going to more traditionally well-to-do districts such as Avon and Avon Lake, while poorer systems such as Elyria and Lorain received less and others received nothing at all.

“The governor said poor districts would see more money and rich districts would see less, but it ends up just the opposite,” Lundy said.

One major difficulty posed by not having details of the school funding bill is that school districts have no way of knowing what money may be deducted from their budgets to go to charter schools, Lundy said.

That component of the funding bill appears to see Manning and Lundy in agreement as it deals with ensuring funds for charter schools, including more money per-pupil to help pay for facilities.

Neither like it.

“Choice is very important to parents, but I just feel public schools are doing an excellent job, and we can’t afford to take money from public schools and give it to charters,” Manning said. “Taking funds away will make it very difficult on them.

“I want my property tax dollars to go to North Ridgeville Schools, not for vouchers for private schools,” Manning said.

Lundy agreed.

“If we’re going to be expanding the voucher initiative for those who want to send children to other schools, it’s going to take a toll on districts like Elyria and Lorain,” Lundy said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.