Fifty-five percent of Ohio schools are subject to lose funding, including four Athens County schools, under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed 2018-2019 budget.
The budget calls for reduced funding if a school district has lost more than 5 percent of its students in the past five years, beginning in fiscal year 2018. The budget must be altered and approved by the end of the fiscal year on July 1.
“If the student population has declined greater than 5 percent, the state aid will be reduced by 1 percent for each additional percent below,” Emmalee Kalmbach, Kasich’s press secretary, said.
There will be a 5 percent cap on the amount of funding a school can lose, Kalmbach said.
The changes in the proposed budget would affect five schools in Athens County. Athens City Schools would lose $5,228, Alexander would lose $7,419, Federal Hocking would lose $169,375 and Nelsonville would lose $1,053. Trimble’s budget would increase by $56,953.
Athens City Schools have been on a minimum guarantee since Kasich came into office, Matt Bunting, the Athens City School District treasurer, said. The minimum guarantee ensures the district a certain amount of funding, but that could change depending on what legislators decide.
Bunting said Kasich has “consistently” proposed minimizing the guarantee, but it is too early in the process to begin to worry.
“It’s the first step of a five-month project,” he said. “It’s really soon in the process with very few details. It’s got a long way to go before we will start worrying about that.”
The budget cuts are an attempt to keep state spending low and practice “fiscal responsibility,” Kalmbach said.
“Across the board, we are applying conservative budget principals,” she said. “He inherited a huge deficit, and he is bound and determined not to pass that onto the next governor.”
Kalmbach said Kasich has made K-12 education a “priority since day one” and his investment in education is evidence of that.
“Despite a restrained overall Executive Budget, Gov. Kasich has again made K-12 education a priority by increasing base support to Ohio schools by nearly $200 million,” she said in an email. “As a result, under Gov. Kasich’s leadership, Ohio will be spending $1.6 billion more for K-12 education than in 2011 — the strongest level ever at $10.6 billion.”
Brittany Baker, a sophomore studying early childhood education, is concerned about how budget cuts may affect schools in the area.
“It’s unfortunate that kids are going to be losing with this, whether it’s specials or certain activities that are important to their education and growth,” she said.
Kalmbach said it is important to keep the amount of funding being cut in perspective.
“Why should they get the same funding if they’ve lost five percent of their students?” she said. “It could be losing funding, but it could be only half a percent.”
Originally published for The Post on Feb. 17, 2016.