Governor John Kasich's budget shortchanges local schools: Victoria Jackson (Opinion)
Posted March 12, 2017 in Op-Eds
Guest columnist Victoria W. Jackson is the state policy fellow for Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit policy research organization working to broaden the debate about economic policy in Ohio.
For the past 10 years, state policy makers have shortchanged Ohio's public school students. Tax cuts that mostly favor the wealthy have starved Ohio's public schools. Lawmakers have moved billions of public dollars to the unregulated charter school industry. Now with his 2018-2019 proposed budget, Governor John Kasich wants to undercut foundational funding that sustains many districts.
Many Cuyahoga County communities are harmed by Kasich's budget. Funding is cut for Strongsville, Lakewood, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, East Cleveland, Solon, Westlake, Orange, South Euclid-Lyndhurst, Bay Village and North Royalton schools even before adjusting for inflation. For Shaker Heights, Chagrin Falls, Beachwood, Mayfield and Rocky River schools funding is flat. Across the state, 346 districts will face budget cuts of up to 5.6 percent from FY 2017 to 2019. Less funding means fewer educators, class options and extracurriculars.
Kasich's proposals make a bad situation worse. Today, state spending on K-12 education is slightly down from a decade ago, when adjusted for inflation. Combined state and local per-pupil funding dropped by nearly 4 percent from recession year 2008 to 2014 when adjusted for inflation. Inadequate funding is compounded by the charter school industry, which syphoned over $7.5 billion away from public schools between 2006 and 2016 and still failed to educate students as well as traditional public schools.
Ohio's children already pay the price for underfunded public education. Our recent report examined how funding cuts and a rule change led to over 3,200 fewer educators in enrichment roles. Until the State Board of Education repealed the "5 of 8" rule in 2015, for every 1,000 students, schools had to have at least five of the following positions: art, music and physical-education teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors, social workers and visiting teachers.
Due to funding cuts over the past decade, the state's school librarians dropped by nearly 40 percent, art teachers declined by 14 percent, music teachers fell by 12 percent and physical education teachers dropped by 10 percent. Teacher-to-student ratios increased across Ohio. Ratios for non-teaching educators such as school nurses, social workers and school counselors now exceed recommendations by governmental and educational organizations.
Original Article: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/03/g...