The two-year state budgeting process is complete and I’d like to thank our Board of Education and the members of our community for once again coming together to advocate for the financial health of our District.
When the initial state biennium budget was proposed in February, it contained a formula that would cut our District’s funding by more than $4.1-million over the next two years. The final budget proposal emerging from the Senate process held our District harmless with no net gain or loss in the next two-year funding cycle. However, Gov. Kasich chose to veto a portion of the budget holding districts harmless for the loss of Tangible Personal Property Tax. This means our District will lose $1.2-million per year beginning in 2016-17, continuing the trend of the state government shifting the burden of funding our schools to the residents of our community.
In spite of the 11th hour bad news for our budget, we need to take the time to thank our Board of Education and the members of our community who rallied to try and protect our taxpayers.
Our Board has been front and center, fighting to keep more of our state funding dollars, immediately springing into action when the initial proposal of yet another significant state funding cut was made public last winter.
Within days, our Board members had collectively crafted a letter to Gov. Kasich and the House of Representatives Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education members asking them to reconsider certain provisions of the proposed budget that hurt our District. Board President Lynn May testified before the House subcommittee on March 18, making an impassioned and well-rationed argument our District should at least maintain its current level of state funding. The Board discussed the proposed budget at its Board meetings, publicized the issue on the District’s web site and social media outlets, and personally reached out to legislators asking for their assistance. It was during this process the District’s Key Communicators group became involved and took it upon themselves to distribute postcards to legislators, asking Dublin City Schools to not be harmed in this budget biennium.
When the Senate portion of the process began, the Board issued a second call to action and again our community responded. The Board drafted a second round of letters on this issue which were sent to the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Mrs. May testified before the Senate committee on May 13. And once again, our Key Communicators ensured post cards were sent to legislators stating our District’s position.
This time and effort put into making our voices heard regarding the state budget is important to the financial health of our District and ultimately impacts what we request from our taxpayers in future levies.
Reductions in our state funding are part of a long-term trend and have serious ramifications for Dublin City Schools.
• Since 2006, our state funding has been cut by about $29.5-million. During this same period of time, the District has added more than 2,000 students. As our student enrollment growth has continued to rise, our state funding has continued to be reduced.
• Our state funding has gone from 19% percent of our budget in 2006, to 9% percent of our budget today.
• During this same time period, unfunded state mandates such as testing requirements have increased exponentially. These expenses have to be absorbed by our general fund.
• For each dollar a District resident sends to the State, less than 10 cents is returned to our Community.
• About 16% or 2,500 of our students participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
• About 10% or 1,530 of our students are English Language Learners.
• About 11% or 1,680 of our students have special needs.
These facts are important because the perception of our District as 100% homogeneous and affluent is erroneous. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths and we are excited every day to be able to offer all of our students a well-rounded education and world-class instruction. The bottom line when it comes to state funding is we have to take care of our District ourselves. There is no state or federal windfall heading our way in the foreseeable future.
We’d like to thank Sen. Jim Hughes, Sen. Kris Jordan, Rep. Mike Duffey, and Rep. Stephanie Kunze for meeting with individual Board members to discuss possible revisions to the budget. Their willingness to listen was an important part of the process.
For the second time in five years, our community, led by our Board of Education and involved community members have come together to stand up for our taxpayers when our state funding was threatened. Our community rallied in the spring of 2011 in similar biennium budget circumstances.
Thank you to our Board of Education, and thank you to our Key Communicators for prioritizing, and fighting for, the educational futures of the children of this District.