Local conundrums in a misguided state-- Vote "Yes" on Issue 109
The people of Euclid are tired of being asked to pay more in taxes. If you look at the Euclid Schools Facebook page you’ll see the postings of angry and frustrated residents. People are distressed at the idea of having to shell out more. People wonder, “Why can’t our schools manage with the funds they already receive?”
Well, I’m going to tell you. Step by step.
Providing for Education is the Responsibility of the State.
Our founding fathers wrote a constitution that divided responsibilities between the states and the federal government. Providing for education is the responsibilities of state governments.
Ohio chose to fund education through a revenue formula in which the primary source of educational funds is generated from residential and commercial property taxes. This was a great way to fund schools when Ohio was a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse. It has been most ineffective since the 1970’s when manufacturing and industry fled Ohio.
In a nutshell, the funding formula and the change in our state economy means residential property owners now are responsible for a higher percentage of the revenue generated to fund the schools than they were 40 years ago.
1996 De Rolf vs. The State of Ohio - Funding of Education is Unconstitutional
Because the funding is based on property values, it became clear that the funding formula favored wealthy districts with higher property values. Poor districts with low property values were underfunded. These districts tended to be in urban and rural areas. In 1996 the funding formula was found to be unconstitutional in the Ohio State Supreme Court in a case called DeRolf vs. Ohio. The Supreme Court declared that the Ohio legislature was responsible for developing a new method of funding schools.
Just as a side note, the state of Kentucky was also found to have an unfair educational funding scheme. The state of Kentucky was able to change their formula in a matter of a few years.
“School Choice” Stresses the Local Coffers
Additionally, “school choice” vouchers were piloted in a couple of cities in Ohio. The vouchers allow parents to use $2,000 toward the tuition to a parochial or private school. Local district funds are decreased by $2,000 per voucher AND they lose revenue because the state allocates funds based on enrollment. Local districts are still responsible for testing, services like speech and language development, gifted services, special education services, aids for sight or hearing impaired students, translation to non-English speaking parents and busing for all resident children. It becomes a triple financial penalty to local public school districts.
In 2008 Wall Street collapses on its own avarice, the mortgage/housing industry crashes. People begin to lose their homes in the “housing crisis.” They don’t pay property taxes. The banks who own the properties are slow to pay as well. Revenue for education declines. Again.
A Hostile Governor is Elected and the Burden to Residential Property Owners Increases
Fast forward to 2010 when Ohio elected John Kasich to be governor based on the notion that he would balance the state budget. He stated that he intended to cut state spending of various social programs, including education. He did cut education funding to local school districts by more than 10%.
Here I have to point out to you, that by cutting state funds to local school districts, Governor Kasich placed an even greater burden on residential property owners to fund their schools than ever before.
Kasich expects that local governments should find funding for their schools. Yet, according to the Columbus Dispatch, "The state rainy-day fund, which had just 89 cents in January 2011, now has $482 million - 1.8 percent of the general revenue fund." None of it is slated for education.
Responsibility to the Community One Serves
By the way, when it was suggested that the state legislators should take a pay cut or pay freeze to help balance the budget, they voted no. One Republican legislator claimed he worked hard and so deserved every taxpayer dollar he got.
In contrast, the teachers, administrators and staff of the Euclid City Schools accepted pay cuts and pay freezes to offset the school budget deficit.
State Legislators Fail to Make Changes in Funding Formula
Have the legislators tried to change the way schools are funded in the state of Ohio? No, the legislators have not addressed the unconstitutional funding of education yet. The governor reportedly has created a committee to “study” the problem.
I was talking to an attorney a couple of years ago, who was organizing a shindig for Glenn Beck. She kept arguing with me about the positive value of SB5. When I said to her that if the politicians left education to the educators and concentrated on their own job of fixing the unconstitutional funding of schools, education would improve dramatically. She said, “Well, how are they supposed to do that?”
Support Issue 109
Euclid Schools do a great job of educating its students. My two children are going through the public school system now and have benefited from the expertise and dedication of their teachers and coaches. They are thriving in the inclusive environment the schools offer. They excel in their classes. They participate in the music programs, sports programs and all the activity days offered to dedicated students. I expect my children to do their best in school and trust their teachers to challenge them.
The Euclid City School District is in a conundrum. The district needs funds to operate the schools. The teachers, staff and administrators need a pay increase so that they can raise their own families. The district is stuck with a revenue source that is unfair and steadily decreasing. The state government is negligent in its responsibilities to property owners and thus to the public schools. District officials live here. They know that people here are having a difficult time.
Vote “yes” on issue 109
The residents of Euclid have got to stop blaming the school district for a system that is failing all of us. Support your schools.
We know that property values increase when school levies pass. We know that when realtors are selling properties, the quality of the school district is a selling point. We know that when our children are well educated, their economic future increases. We can support our schools and our community by voting “yes” on issue 109.
A Call to Action
Contact your state politicians and demand they be accountable to the public. Demand that they fix the unfair and unconstitutional educational funding of our schools. Demand that they stop pointing fingers at the hard-working educators of our state and perform their own duties.
The list below contains the name, position and phone number of various politicians key to making decisions regarding educational policy. You can also find online contact links for everyone at http://ohio.gov/government/.
John Kasich Governor (614) 466-3555
Kenny Yuko Rep. (614) 466-8012
Nina Turner Sen. (614) 466-4583
Gerald L. Stebelton Rep., Chair of Education Committee (614) 466-8100
Bill Hayes Rep. Finance and Appropriations Committee (614) 466-2500
Chair of Primary and Secondary Education
Elizaabeth Munro is a resident of the beautiful city of Euclid, a teacher, a baker and an advocate of the Euclid City Schools.
I am a resident of the beautiful city of Euclid, a teacher, a baker and an advocate of the Euclid City Schools.