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.
School funding issues remain a top concern for Olentangy. The school board and administration have made tens of millions of dollars in reductions in recent years to help offset the low per-pupil state funding during the district's continued enrollment growth. Olentangy residents pay millions of dollars in state income taxes, and only a small fraction of that comes back to the community to benefit the schools. According to district officials, Olentangy currently receives approximately 4 cents back of every dollar that district residents pay in state income taxes, while similar districts currently receive 17 cents of every dollar, and the state average is 66 cents of every dollar.
The Olentangy School Advocacy Committee was formed to help the district to navigate these types of issues. This board-approved committee, comprised of community taxpayers, provides insight and guidance on what the district and residents need to watch out for in upcoming budgets and helps determine when lobbying local legislators might be of value. This group will closely monitor the current state school-funding proposal as it makes its way through the Ohio House and Senate. State law requires that a plan must be finalized by June 30.
Readers can follow the School Advocacy Committee on Facebook or view its webpage here, where those interested can sign up for the committee's newsletter.
The School Advocacy Committee will be posting information which ONE Olentangy plans to share in an effort to update residents on this school funding process, so be sure to check for updates.
In the meantime, we urge Olentangy residents to contact their legislators.