District and private school leaders vote on new funding formula

District Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Melissa Swearingen said a two-year increase in state funding could allow Delaware city schools to defer a drawdown for new operating funds for one or two years while putting replacement deductions on the ballot.

The funding increase comes from part of the state’s two-year, $ 75 billion budget, which will increase funding for a number of central Ohio school districts. .

Ohio lawmakers approved the equitable school funding plan through the amended Surrogate Home Bill 110, which will be in place for the next two fiscal years.

The plan changes the way schools receive money from the state. For example, the state will look at both local revenues and land values ​​to determine how much a district should be able to cover on its own. And their base amount (the cost to educate the average student) will be based on local costs instead of a single statewide average.

“It sets up the basic costing and fund allocation model, which is a much more fair, stable and predictable process,” said Speaker of the House Bob Cupp, a Republican from Lima who has helped develop the plan.

Lawmakers, however, only approved the first two years of the plan, to coincide with the biennial budget. It will be up to future state legislatures to fund the rest.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of support from the schools. It’s going to work well, so the General Assembly will want to continue to put this in place, ”Cupp said.

“Based on simulations provided by our professional associations, the Delaware School District projects an increase in state revenues of approximately $ 896,941 for the next fiscal year,” Swearingen said.

An increase in state funding is expected, Superintendent Heidi Kegley said.

“The Fair Schools Funding Bill is definitely a step in the right direction for districts like us that have been capped for many years,” she said. “Because the bill only deals with funding for two years, we will continue to work with our lawmakers to encourage them to build on this budget bill going forward. We are encouraged by the bipartisan support to assess school funding issues and work towards a fair solution for all districts.

The district is updating its five-year financial forecast, which will be presented to the board in the fall, Swearingen said.

“But we anticipate that these revenue increases will allow the district to defer a new levy request for one to two years. The renewal levies will still need to be enacted to continue the current operations of the district,” Swearingen said.

Augmented charter, community vouchers

Another aspect of the state’s funding plan is the increase in financial assistance to chartered and non-public community schools.

Under the old public system, the Delaware Christian School received an average of $ 4,650 per year for each student in Kindergarten through Grade 8 and $ 6,000 on average for each student in Grades 9 through 12. , said school principal Jane Miner.

Under the revised system, she said, annual state funding will average $ 5,000 for each elementary student and $ 7,200 for each high school student.

Full elementary tuition is $ 6,386, and high school tuition of $ 7,200 is now fully covered by the state, Miner said.

“It certainly helps us. In the past the compensation (from the state was) much lower,” she said.

Last year, Delaware Christian School had 320 students enrolled in grades K-12, all at its location 45 Belle Ave., she said. The school’s preschool programs receive no state funding.

The state’s compensation comes in the form of checks payable to Christian schools in Delaware, but sent directly to the parents of the students, Miner said. Parents fill out the paperwork that allocates the checks to the school, she said, adding that the system predates the last public schools funding bill and remains unchanged.

Miner said she doesn’t think state funding has helped Delaware Christian’s enrollment increase in recent years.

Instead, she said, parents want their kids to attend a smaller school with Delaware Christian values.

She said the school is a ministry of the Delaware Bible Church, “an independent Bible believing church” that provides an excellent academic education with a biblical worldview that enables students to be successful in any career.

Kegley said: “At this point, we’re not sure what the real impact of direct charter and community school funding actually has on (Delaware City Schools). up-to-date enrollment numbers. There is no link between the district and a specific community or charter school. “

Bulletins revised again

On July 1, the signing of the Legislature and Governor Mike DeWine was also recently approved by Bill 82, amending the state’s report card system for school districts.

“We applaud the state legislature’s efforts to address issues with the state’s ballot system to make the results more meaningful to school districts and the voters who review them,” Kegley said. “This is still a step in the right direction, but still requires work to develop a comprehensive state system that adequately and equitably reflects the achievements and progress of districts with diverse demographics.

“As we analyze report card data and discuss ways to improve ourselves, we really rely on multiple data points throughout the year to inform teaching with every student on a daily basis,” she said. declared.

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission released an analysis on HB 82, noting the new system, among other details:

• Replaces the letter A to F rating template with a new star rating system, but maintains the overall rating and performance ratings for each of the components used to determine the overall rating

• Maintains the six components prescribed by current law but revises how they are individually assessed and how they are used to calculate the overall rating and, in some cases, renames them

• Reviews performance metrics used to determine component ratings and eliminates separate performance ratings for those metrics

The new system will come into force at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Megan Henry and Ohio bureau reporter Jessie Balmert contributed to this story.

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