State budget may harm ESC
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 10:13
As part of the proposed budget by Ohio Governor John Kasich, the Wood County Educational Service Center and 54 other counterparts in Ohio could lose millions of dollars in state funding over the next two years.
Kyle Kanuckel, superintendent of the Wood County Educational Service Center, is fully aware the changes they could be facing.
Overall, he says the state funding proposed budget for the WCESC would drop roughly 57 percent, from about $295,000 down to about $126,000.
Noting it is still early in the budgetary planning, Kanuckel said, "The budget process is long and arduous, and the governor's proposal does negatively impact ESCs."
He explained the plan as laid out by the governor is for the state funding dollars "to follow the student."
Thus the $6.50 received by the ESC for each student in the local school districts they serve will be eliminated and instead, given to the local school districts.
"The reality is districts can still choose where to spend their money," which Kanuckel said could still be spent with his service center.
"ESCs do play a major role in our district, especially as it relates to special education students," he said.
The superintendent said that $6.50 per student adds up to about $70,000 a year.
Just as vital is the proposed cutting of the state subsidy program. He says those funds are used to help control costs for the local districts.
"This is the fourth or fifth year in a row that state subsidy has been cut," he said.
Beyond those cuts, Kanuckel says the state is talking of doing away with two other funding sources.
First is the preschool unit funding. The county ESC currently receives $943,000 to run 13 preschool units. The second is $78,000 received to operated its "gifted" program.
In both cases, the superintendent said the funding for those programs is not considered revenue, rather it is designated as operating costs. Those funds also include some of the special needs classes.
That money will also be funneled through the local school districts and Kanuckel is hopeful they will continue to serve the districts by operating
Under the new proposal, he said, "School districts can still contract with ESCs, the unit funding used to come through us."
He, along with his counterparts across the state, are working with the Ohio Educational Service Center Association, along with local legislators to see what can be done.
"The local legislators have been very receptive and willing to talk. They understand the impact this budget would have on us," he said.
"I've been through the budget process many times and know things can change. It is real early in the game," Kanuckel added.
He said the legislature was scheduled to hear testimony about ESCs today.
Kanuckel said it would not be prudent to just sit back and watch.
"You have to stand up and take notice and due diligence as to what it could mean and have conversations with a lot of different people," he said, noting the conversations he has had with legislators, local district superintendents and board members. He is currently preparing a presentation for the next board of directors' meeting, which is set for 3 p.m. March 14.
"I believe that ESCs have a part to play in the achievement of young people and the support of our school districts. That might not change, but just look different if (the budget proposal) happens," he said. "It is a hurry up and wait-type scenario."