In 2011, Ohioans sought change in their education systems. Then-Gov. John Kasich introduced new funding systems that were intended to make school districts more equitable by allocating higher funding to districts in poorer economic shape. This caused an uproar in many suburban districts whose funding was cut significantly in order to increase funding for districts that met certain needs-based criteria. As a result, these systems led to complicated calculations and difficult-to-understand forecasts.
Public schools and charter schools alike often struggle to keep up with legislative changes and the potential impacts to their bottom line. The question now is what might occur in this arena under the governorship of Michael DeWine. Many education administrators are on the edge of their seats awaiting another surprise.
It’s well publicized that DeWine has long supported giving parents and their children alternatives to traditional public schools, including charters. When the FY2020-21 biennium budget was unveiled in a March 2019 press conference, new light was shed on how charter schools (also known as community schools) will fare. Overall, it appears there will be 3.9 percent state fund increase for primary and secondary education. This equates to an approximately $1.1 billion dollars over the next two years.
Some notable allocations also could have big impacts on districts, schools and students:
- A $550 million allocation for student wellness and success. This means schools receive additional funding for mental health counseling, wraparound supports, mentoring and after-school programs. We know that no charter school will receive less than $25,000 in FY2020 and $30,000 in FY2021. We also know that the poverty percentage and per-pupil dollar amount of a student’s resident district will serve as the base for calculating these amounts.
- $20 million for schools that provide free, evidence-based prevention and professional development for school personnel. This allocation is intended to provide students with the social and emotional skills they need to make healthy decisions throughout their life.
- A $60 million increase for child nutrition via federal funding. Since the primary goal of the education portion of the biennium budget is to benefit the health and safety of Ohio’s children, it’s logical to conclude that providing better access to healthy foods and better meals will aid in developing well-rounded children.
How these and many other new funding initiatives are funded have been outlined in the Fair School Funding Plan released at the end of March by Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). Ohio’s funding distribution strategy recommends a direct method of funding charter schools from the state, via vouchers, instead of resident district payment reductions that complicate the new funding formulas set to roll out immediately July 1, 2019. The amount of these vouchers to charter schools was not disclosed, which has caused concern among education stakeholders that funding may be decreased to an already struggling population.
Many variables remain to be resolved, and more details emerge daily. A copy of the current plan, as well as additional details, can be found on the Fordham Institute website, as well as the Office of Budget and Management.
Skoda Minotti’s Charter Schools Group will continue to monitor legislation and developments surrounding school funding and will keep you apprised of developments as they occur.