Several Medina County school districts could lose state funding as part of Gov. John Kasich’s proposed biennial budget for 2018-19, while state funding could stay steady for others.
The Gazette interviewed officials at the seven districts for reactions:
Medina Schools could see the most significant loss of about $3 million over the next two years, district Treasurer David Chambers said.
He said estimates show the district would see an increase of $382,000 in 2018 in foundation funding, which is used for general operations. But there would be a decrease of $2.174 million in tangible personal property tax loss reimbursement, which also goes toward the district’s general operations.
Chambers said the tax loss reimbursement funds are collected from business taxes, which are then distributed to cities and school districts. However, he said the tax loss reimbursement is being “phased out” by the state, which results in loss of funding for Medina.
For the second year of the budget, Medina would lose $28,000 in foundation funding and $159,225 in the tax loss reimbursement.
Another portion of the proposed budget is a 12.5 percent reduction of transportation reimbursement funds — from 50 percent to
37.5 percent. Chambers said Medina Schools would lose about $650,000 in transportation funding in fiscal years 2018-19. This year, Medina is receiving $1.3 million from the state.
The district provides 48 transportation routes covering approximately 52 square-miles. Busing is offered to all students who live one mile or more away from his or her school.
He noted the estimates could change because the budget has a “long road to travel” before it is approved by the General Assembly and signed by Kasich by June 30.
“If the proposal is changed by either the House or Senate, the district may see a possible change in this funding outcome,” he said. “It’s way too early to tell.”
Brunswick Schools spokeswoman Amy Rutledge said the district could see a slight increase from the state of about 1 percent in fiscal year 2018 and a 0.2-percent increase in fiscal year 2019.
“Overall, the proposal for the two years from the governor is relatively flat,” Rutledge said. “While it does show an increase, this is a very small increase, and is still in question because the budget is not finalized.”
Wadsworth Schools Superintendent Andy Hill said the proposal shows an increase of $169,167 in fiscal year 2018 and a loss of $55,795 in fiscal year 2019 in district funding.
Highland Schools officials said the district would not be affected by the proposal in its current form.
Buckeye Schools estimates it could lose $500,000 over the next two years if Kasich’s budget is approved as proposed.
Superintendent Kent Morgan said the district is could have its transportation reimbursement reduced by $190,602 in fiscal year 2018 and $381,203 in fiscal year 2019. Last year, Buckeye received $762,406 from the state.
“That’s a significant amount of money for Buckeye,” Morgan said. “That will severely impact the financial stability of our future revenue.”
Buckeye provides 27 transportation routes across the district’s 75 square miles.
All students except high school students are offered transportation services. Morgan said there is a potential of extending the service to high school students in the future.
The proposed budget would also call for a slight increase in state funding of $62,574 in fiscal year 2018, but a decrease of $101,539 in fiscal year 2019 for Buckeye.
“We need to maintain our current funding levels from the state. Otherwise, the expenses will begin to decrease our carryover amounts that we have worked so hard to build over the past four years,” Morgan said. Any lost state funding would have to be made up from the district’s reserves, Morgan said.
“The challenge is when the budget comes out, everyone is looking at protecting what they have,” he continued. “I don’t think we’ll get additional money, but I don’t want to lose money that we have.”
Cloverleaf Schools Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said the district would lose $445,414 in the first year of the proposal, which is equivalent to nearly 1 mill of the district’s annual tax revenue from property taxes.
“A funding loss would have a negative impact on our cash carryover balance, which we have worked so hard to build,” he said. “When our levy passed in May 2014, our Board of Education made a commitment that we would not go back on the ballot for new operations money until at least 2020. We are going to honor that commitment.”
Kubilus added the cuts would not affect specific departments or programs within the school district at this time.
Black River Schools
Black River Schools Superintendent Chris Clark said the district would lose approximately $350,000 and would have to make “unilateral cuts.” Specific reductions have not been determined, he said.
“It would be hard for us to determine what departments would be affected,” Clark said.
Urged to call legislators
School officials said parents and community members could contact state Reps. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville (70th District), and Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick (69th District), and Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, to express concerns.
“It’s important as a community to voice our concerns to legislators,” Morgan said. “This is the time we need to make efforts to contact them.”
Legislatures said they are working efficiently on the multifaceted budget proposal.
“There’s a joint concern that (the) majority of the districts are losing money,” Hambley said. “We need to give them more flexibility and reduce costs.”
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.