According to Gov. John Kasich’s recently released school funding proposal, Olentangy taxpayers will continue to bear the lion’s share of the increased costs stemming from the district's explosive, unprecedented, and continued growth.
Olentangy currently receives $9,106,935 in basic core state aid out of its total budget of $173 million. Under Kasich’s proposed plan, Olentangy would receive $10,017,628 in FY16 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016), a 10 percent increase. (Kasich’s budget proposal limits funding increases to 10 percent. According to Kasich’s calculations, Olentangy should be entitled to $37,236,165. Because of the funding caps, the district is receiving less than one-third of this amount).
Using projected enrollment figures from the district’s five-year forecast, which readers can find here, Kasich’s budget proposal equates to Olentangy receiving $519 from the state if calculated on a per-pupil basis. State funding for public schools does not use per-pupil funding in its calculations, so as Olentangy’s enrollment increases, the amount of per-pupil funding it receives from the state effectively decreases. The state does, however, currently provide a specified per-pupil amount of $1,149 to all non-public chartered schools in Ohio. (According to school board member Julie Feasel, non-public chartered schools include many private schools, such as Village Academy, Bishop Watterson, and Worthington Christian).
In other words, non-public chartered schools in Ohio could continue to receive twice the amount of per-pupil state funding than Olentangy. Non-public chartered schools are rewarded for growth, because they receive more money from the state for each student enrolled. Olentangy is penalized for growth, because no matter how many new students enroll in the district, the state does not increase funding to Olentangy on a per-pupil basis.
Fairness. According to Olentangy Superintendent Wade Lucas that’s all the Olentangy Local School District is asking for when it comes to school funding in the next biennial budget.
Dr. Lucas, along with district Treasurer Brian Kern and board Vice President Julie Wagner Feasel, presented two forums last week at district middle schools on school funding called the School Funding Follies. According to Dr. Lucas, the goal of the forums was educating district residents on the ins and outs of Ohio school funding.
For years, district taxpayers have paid for the majority of operating expenses and new buildings in Olentangy. “This lack of funding has resulted in our voters having to approve eight bond issues for new buildings and four operating levies since 1998,” Kern explained.
According to Feasel, with the current state funding formula, Olentangy should be getting $42.1 million from the state. However, due to funding caps included in the formula, the district will receive just $8.2 million in fiscal year 2014 or $456 per pupil. This means that for every dollar Olentangy residents pay to the state in income tax, their school district receives just four cents. Similar districts are receiving 17 cents of every dollar of state income tax, and the state average is 66 cents of every dollar of state income tax. Thus, Olentangy residents’ tax dollars are funding educational opportunities in other districts – many right here in Central Ohio.
Olentangy school board member Adam White has lost his appeal in his case against his fellow board members.
In April 2013, Olentangy school board member Adam White filed a civil action against his fellow school board members. In his complaint, he alleged that the other board members violated state public meeting laws by engaging in email correspondence while formulating a response to a Dispatch editorial. On Jan. 16, 2014, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Everett H. Krueger granted a judgment motion in the Board's favor and dismissed all of White's claims. White subsequently filed his appeal.
On September 5, 2014, the Fifth Appellate District affirmed Judge Krueger’s judgment, finding no errors as a matter of law in the lower court decision.
At the time of the initial trial court decision, it was estimated that approximately $10,000 to $15,000 of district funds had been expended in defense of White’s lawsuit. Additional expenditures have accrued in the appeal, however no total cost-to-date has been disclosed. White has 45 days to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. If he chooses not to appeal, or if he does and loses again, the Olentangy school board has the right to request White to cover attorney fees and costs.