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Education


Gov. Kasich says his school plan boosts performance and poor districts
Kasich says he's stripping politics out of school funding
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
Gov. Kasich says he won't play politics with education. Democrats disagree.
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In The Region:

Gov. John Kasich is proposing a school-funding overhaul he says will help poor districts compete more evenly while introducing changes to promote innovation and performance. His plan was unveiled to school superintendents and administrators at a meeting in Columbus this afternoon.

Kasich says his plan would boost funding for poor districts that are lagging in property values and household incomes, but also offers more school choice and help for the costs of special-needs students.

Kasich on the school funding plan

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JO INGLES extended report on the governor's plan

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“We have stripped politics out of the decision making. In the past, people had political considerations. That is not the way that I approach this job nor the way I would approach the distribution of resources for our boys and girls. The minute you play politics is the minute you get lost.” 

Kasich education advisers say no schools will see reduced funding next year under the current formula, and overall funding will rise. But the governor and his team hinted it won't stay that way beyond this budget.

Here's an extended version of what Gov. Kasich unveiled:
Gov. Kasich says schools need to become more efficient. He says government needs to become better at funding schools in a way that encourages efficiency.  And he says the plan he unveiled Thursday afternoon takes politics out of the process. 

“The minute you play politics is the minute you get lost, and we did not want to do that.  We wanted to deliver the resources of this state fairly,” Kasich said. “And we wanted to make sure every boy and girl, no matter what district they come from, is going to be in a position to have the resources they need to compete with every other boy and girl in every district throughout the state.”

Kasich says his new school funding plan is fully funded and constitutional.  And he stresses no district will receive fewer dollars than it did last year.

But the formula for determining how much schools will get in the future will change.  Some districts with low property values and low incomes will get more state money under this formula.  Kasich says his plan assumes all school districts will receive a base amount --20 mills -- and if low income school districts can’t meet that amount on their own, the state will make up the difference.

He adds some districts could be getting more on top of that, depending on the makeup of their student population and programs.  Take disabled students for example.  There would be a dollar amount allotted specifically for programming for those students.

And there would be a one-time $300 million pool of money for schools to fund innovative programs that would improve performance and save money.

“This is not like some difficult thing to figure out. If you are poor, you are going to get more. If you are richer, you are going to get less. … If you have gifted students, you are going to get help.  If you have disabled students, you are going to get help.

“It’s not like I didn’t get mine so I should run to the Legislature to figure out how to take it from someone else.  This is why I said at the beginning of this, this is not some politicized deal.

The Republican governor says he’s been asked why he’s not putting more into Republican districts. His response: “That’s not the way you do this if you put boys and girls first and the schools first.  You do it on the basis of where it is needed and where the kids have the best chance.”

Kasich says his formula for funding kindergarten also will change.  Schools with all-day kindergarten will get twice as much money.  And speaking of kindergarten and first grade, more of those students will be able to use vouchers for private schools.  That’s something that Cynthia Williams likes.  Her child is already in a charter online school.

“I think putting power in the parents hands who ultimately know what is best for their child to … decide what the child’s school of choice should be is a good thing.  And whether those are vouchers, charters or e-schools like my child attends, I think it’s a good thing.”

But the plan is already drawing criticism from Democrats.  Jerid Kurtz, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, says “the Governor has introduced an education plan that is short on details.”

Even without the details, there’s one area that already has them upset.

“One thing we know for sure is that the governor has chosen not to restore the $1.8 billion  in cuts … that were epic and historical in 2011.  He hasn’t made those up, and that’s was the biggest criteria looking at this program.”

District by district breakdowns of Kasich’s plan are to be released the middle of next week.

 

Here's the city of Cleveland's statement responding to Gov. Kasich's school funding proposal:
In light of financial challenges brought on by cuts to education and declining personal property taxes the last two years, the CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District said he looks forward to reviewing details of Gov. John Kasich’s 2013 budget proposal, released today. 

“It’s too early to tell what the details mean for Cleveland, said CEO Eric Gordon, “but at first glance, there are several strong indications the State is addressing long-standing problems with school funding in Ohio.” 

Gordon said he likes what he sees so far in the philosophical structure of the budget, particularly in the Governor’s attempt to address Ohio school districts’ long-standing reliance on property taxes. 

“There’s an effort here to treat people in a fair and equitable manner,” he said.  “It appears to be a thoughtful process and an attempt to address tax issues without simply taking from rich districts to give money to poorer ones.” 

The CEO said he is encouraged by the budget proposal’s inclusion of opportunities for districts to seek support for innovative programs and activities, given the district’s current reform efforts and its goals to provide high-performing school choices in all Cleveland neighborhoods. 

Gordon said once school officials have fully reviewed the proposed budget, his team will know better how the budget will support the District’s goals and strategies. 

District officials are expected to review the proposal at a school board and senior leadership retreat this weekend, along with feedback provided in community surveys and at more than 20 meetings held to engage citizens in shaping the district’s reform strategies and academic priorities over the next four years.  

The CEO said he expects the Board and school officials to welcome the State’s inclusion of more flexible rules for how schools operate. 

The Governor’s release of the proposed budget plan today follows the July, 2012 passage of legislation that enabled the Plan for Transforming Cleveland’s Schools to be implemented in the CMSD, and also the November, 2012 passage of the District’s first operating levy in 16 years. 

“The potential for increased state support for Cleveland’s public schools, coupled with the legislative and local support we received this year, will reinforce commitments already made to dramatically move Cleveland’s public schools forward.”

 

 

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