Stimulus $ to aid schools - but only for 2 years PDF Print E-mail
Written by By MARIE THOMAS Sentinel Education Editor   
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 12:50
Wood County schools are going to receive a net state aid cut of $3,854,568 over the next two years.
Federal stabilization dollars, however, will more than make up that loss collectively — but those federal funds will be gone in two years, leaving districts with a hole in their budgets and no way to fill it other than through local tax dollars.
Gov. Ted Strickland’s budget shows a decrease in state aid payments ranging from 4.6 percent to 6.88 percent for the 2009-10 funding year and, in most cases, additional cuts the following year. Strickland has, however, proposed that federal stimulus monies be used to close that gap. Despite the cuts in state aid, most Wood County school districts will receive a net increase in funding in the first year once federal dollars are included.
Republican Rep. Randy Gardner, however, has pointed out the hole in that scenario: Where will Ohio come up with the $845 million in new revenues necessary in two years just to provide the same amount of school money statewide once the stimulus funds are used up?
According to Gardner, R-Bowling Green, about $8.1 million over the next two years will come to Wood County schools via federal fiscal stabilization funds — and after those two years, that funding source will be gone.
The state budget also assumes that the state will realize its projections on revenues from video lottery terminals at racetracks, Gardner pointed out. While Strickland removed $978 million from his education budget, he added back $933 million that is projected from VLTs and traditional lottery revenues over the next two years.

The budget “assumes every dime from video lottery terminal money comes into the state and goes into education,” Gardner stated this morning. “There are a lot of questions whether the revenue will really be there.”
He is concerned that school districts will see a significant drop in state funding in two years, and be forced back on the ballot asking taxpayers to make up the difference.
“Anyone who’s being honest about this state budget knows that there’s a massive deficit in two years. It’s just unavoidable.”
And while the governor had planned to make funding more reliable and reduce the reliance on property taxes, “this budget just doesn’t achieve that,” Gardner said.
He indiciated five school districts in Wood County will experience the maximum reduction of 9.99 percent in state aid over the biennium: Bowling Green, Eastwood, Lake, Otsego and Perrysburg. Their state funding is set to be cut 6.88 percent this year, and then another 3.13 percent in 2010-11.
The Legislative Service Commission provided Gardner with a listing of county schools along with funding changes over the upcoming biennium. Each of the nine county districts will receive “stabilization” funding — temporary federal cash that districts can use to balance their budgets. These funds are not earmarked for any specific program and can be used at the district’s discretion.
“But it’s gone in three years,” Gardner cautioned members of the Rossford school board Monday night.
He spent a few minutes at the meeting to explain the status of tangible personal property tax phase-outs but also addressed the stabilization funding. He suggested, since the monies were not permanent, they be taken out of the district’s budget projections two years from now.
Rossford is scheduled to receive $1,892,407 in state aid this year, or $139,798 (6.88 percent) less than the previous year. In 2010-11, the district will lose another $7,852, or just 0.41 percent, according to House Bill 1 as reported by the conference committee.
However, the district is listed as receiving $409,380 in stabilization funds this year, and $478,460 next school year.
Of the five districts suffering the largest deduction, Perrysburg will gain the most in stabilization funds. That district will receive $7,921,153 in state aid this year — $585,162 (6.88 percent) less than last year — and then another loss of $248,181 in school year 2010-11. However, over the next two years, Perrysburg is scheduled to receive $2,129,815 in stabilization funds.
It should be noted that the state aid numbers listed do not include Title I or special education dollars.
In other districts:
• Otsego will receive $5,301,256 in state aid this year and $5,135,161 next year for a combined loss of $557,717 from what was booked in the 2008-09 school year. In return, the district will receive $752,692 in stabilization fund over the next two years.
• Northwood will see a net loss of $193,474 in state funding — 6.88 percent the first year, and 0.41 percent the next — through fiscal year 2011. The district is expected to collect $445,553 in federal funds over that time.
• North Baltimore will see a much smaller drop in state funding. Its state aid for this year is set at $3,493,098. The district will lose 4.87 percent this year but gain back 0.58 percent the following year for a net loss of $158,546. Over the next two years, the district is scheduled to receive $368,009 in federal dollars.
• Lake Local Schools will gain $772,554 in federal funding over the next two years, but will lose $413,168 in state aid in that time. The district will receive $3,927,271 in state aid this year, down 6.88 percent from the $4.2 million received in 2008-09.
• Elmwood is only the second district in Wood County that will see an increase in state aid payments in 2010-11. The district will receive $297,865 less in state aid this year than last school year but will gain $78,826 of that back the following year for a net two-year loss of $219,039. Elmwood will receive $625,897 in stabilization funds over the next two years.
• A net loss of $644,933 in state aid is expected at Eastwood Local Schools over the next two years. The district is scheduled to receive $6,130,267 this year. The state is planning to forward $750,360 in federal dollars to make up the different.
• In Bowling Green, the state aid estimates show a loss of $482,190 this year and $204,508 next year for a total drop of $686,698 in state funding from the $7 million received in 2008-09. The district is scheduled to receive $1,441,724 in stabilization funds.
 

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