Today I want to share with you some exciting and urgent news that, if passed by our legislature, will begin to address the inadequacies in school funding in Ohio. If passed, the Fair School Funding Plan will provide stability and predictability to our local school budget and ultimately allow us as a community to make plans for the future of our district.
As fiduciaries of Belpre City Schools, the Board and administrative team have taken their obligation seriously to ensure the district has the necessary funds to serve our students. In May 2018 the citizens of Belpre supported the district by passing a levy which generated 1.5 million per year in badly needed funds. In order to make sure that new levy lasted the full 10 years promised to our taxpayers, the District instituted a $650,000 reduction-in-force, with savings mostly generated by eliminating 4 administrator positions and no general classroom teacher cuts, just a year later. As shown below, those two decisions have put the district on firm financial ground. But unless Ohio institutes the Fair School Funding Plan our district will begin to cut into its hard fought reserves after the 2024 school year.
Over the last 24 years, Ohio’s school funding formula has been ruled unconstitutional on three separate occasions because Ohio’s system to fund schools is overly reliant on local taxes - yet for decades, the Ohio legislature has done nothing to solve it. The arcane and unconstitutional formula has capped Belpre City Schools from receiving $850,000 per year than what it should have been receiving. That is more than half of the levy money generated by the 8 mil levy passed in May 2018 - money which should have been provided by Ohio and not local citizens.
The State of Ohio is in excellent financial shape with revenues running $1.5 billion (as of March 2021) beyond where we were one year ago in March 2020, just as the pandemic was hitting. Additionally legislators have maxed out their annual contributions to the Rainy Day Fund (currently at $2.7 billion) and their average $400 million annual contributions have to be invested somewhere else.
Now, the Fair School Funding Plan can be passed today with ZERO state tax increases - this formula was created by a group of bipartisan legislators, educators and school leaders and is good for Ohio.
Yesterday, Belpre City Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Greenley attended the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee meeting to testify and urge the Senate to pass the Fair School Funding Plan. A full copy of his testimony can be found by clicking here. Concluding his testimony, Greenley, discussing the district’s Portrait of A Graduate initiative, said “…to truly enact this transformative change for children [Belpre City Schools] has to overcome the significant funding challenges created by the elimination of the TPP tax, the broken promise of the CAT tax and the absurdly low amount of foundation payment generated under the current funding formula. I implore this body to pass this badly needed reform."
Under the Fair School Funding Plan, our District would receive more predictable funding - this funding would help us make decisions as a community and continue providing the programs and services our community has come to expect. This stability would allow us to reconfigure our budgets and ease the hard work of addressing the school’s aging facilities.
Now is the time to invest in our students and our schools. This plan is good for our schools, our students and our taxpayers. We are meeting with our State Representatives and Senate Senator to share our support for this plan and will continue to educate our community about the importance of funding the students in Belpre City School District.
Write to or call your state representatives and state senator and share your support for our schools and investing Ohio’s excess revenue and available tax dollars in students at zero tax increase to residents. Representative Jay Edwards supported the legislation and voted it out of the House last month. Senator Frank Hoagland is our voice in the Senate and we will continue to have conversations with him moving forward.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly. Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support of our students.