Posts Tagged 'budget cuts'

Schools Across State Starving in Face of Historically Deep Budget Cuts

As the Ohio House Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education prepares to meet at the Warren County ESC, in Lebanon, State Rep. Matt Lundy highlighted the need to put our kids and communities first as they face financial crisis.

Ohio school districts are projecting huge deficits because of $1.4 billion in cuts to education in the state’s operating budget, which passed along party lines.  Schools in Warren County were cut a total of nearly $27 million for fiscal years 2012-13 when compared to 2011, including more than $4 million from Lebanon City Schools and $9 million from Mason City School. Districts across the state are left to struggle with the best way to prepare children for the future with larger class sizes, fewer music and art programs, costly extra-curricular activities and limited or no busing. 

“Rather than addressing the brewing financial crisis facing communities like Lebanon, where the city schools face a projected deficit of nearly $2 million dollars for fiscal year 2013 and more than $3 million for fiscal year 2014, Republicans have decimated school funding.  Schools across the state struggle to cope with unfunded mandates, large class sizes and few teachers in the classroom,” said Rep. Lundy.

House Bill 30 dismantled education reforms set in place by Democrats taking apart key provisions like all-day kindergarten, and it removed the Evidence Based Model for education, returning us to an unconstitutional funding system that is overly reliant on property taxes, while we wait for Gov. Kasich to introduce his own plan, and hold hearings around the state nearly two years later.

“It’s been 15 years since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that our school funding system is unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local property tax,” said State Rep. Matt Lundy. “Today, as schools face tough decisions this reliance is only growing, while we just begin to have hearings nearly two years after dismantling the Evidence Based Model that would have helped to reduce the burden on local property taxpayers.”

35 school districts are preparing to ask citizens to pass levies, increasing their local property taxes, during special elections in August. While school districts across the state are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014. This is based on a calculation of each school district’s five-year projection of finances, which is required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. Policy Matters Ohio also estimates that school districts in “Fiscal Watch” or “Fiscal Emergency” could spike by 300 percent this year, from 14 to 43.

-30-

Teacher Appreciation: by State Rep. Debbie Phillips

This week is national teacher appreciation week. Each of us can think of a teacher, or teachers, who made a difference in our lives. My children have both had excellent teachers, and we feel very fortunate to live in a community that has such a wealth of smart, caring educators. I hope we all take a moment to thank a teacher this week, and to proudly recognize educators who work every day to help nurture Ohio’s children and prepare them for the future.

Public education is the foundation of the middle class, and we must fight to protect and improve our schools. Having the best schools and teachers is vital to growing our economy and preparing young people in our community for the jobs of the future.

Local school districts across the state are facing difficult decisions, including laying off teachers and cutting programs. Supporting teachers in their work necessarily includes providing the tools and resources to prepare our children for a successful future. It would be wise for leaders to recognize and support their hard work.

We have a responsibility together to make sure schools are working for our children. Last year, the state budget made historically deep cuts to education. To understand the impact, House Democrats calculated the projected school-funding deficit for every school district in Ohio based on their five-year forecasts. The results are sobering. In fiscal year 2014, the combined school-funding deficit in Ohio is estimated to be $1.79 billion.

Every week newspapers around the state are reporting possible teacher cuts, the elimination of bus routes, building closures, and lots of new levy attempts. Rural, urban, and suburban schools are all struggling in the current climate, and we cannot turn our backs on the kids and communities of this state.

My colleagues in the Ohio House and I have proposed a modest plan to help our schools and communities during these difficult times. Our plan, the Kids and Communities First Fund, would make up to $400 million available this year to keep teachers in the classroom, and police and firefighters on the streets.

While this would not solve all the problems, it would provide some immediate relief to communities around the state without a local tax increase. Our fund would use surplus revenue, currently $350 million and growing, and a portion of the Rainy Day Fund. Sadly, when offered as a budget amendment, it was rejected along party lines without ever being seriously considered, but I will be introducing this proposal as a standalone bill in the near future.

Currently, the state of Ohio is functioning without a formula or a plan for funding schools. Governor Kasich’s budget repealed the formula, and replaced it with “bridge” funding. This has caused deep uncertainty for schools, and hearings on a new proposal are only now beginning. I trust that a good faith effort will be made to work together in a nonpartisan way to make real progress on a fair way of funding schools, so that children in Ohio have a good education, no matter where they live.

Students in our region should have access to a full curriculum, high level coursework, early childhood education, and other resources to enable them to develop their talents and find success in the world at large. Teachers are the key, and real appreciation will have to include making sure that teachers can do their life’s work—helping to nurture the inquisitive minds entrusted to their care. Teachers are called to service. Let’s do our part to show respect and appreciation for our teachers by taking seriously our responsibility to fund public education in Ohio.

This week, teacher appreciation week, I thank all the educators who work tirelessly for our children. I will continue working to ensure that our children have access to a high quality public education, throughout Ohio, and I hope you will too.

Teacher Appreciation: by State Rep. Nickie Antonio

Recently we celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week; the reality that many teachers face in the classroom is anything but appreciation.  Teachers are forced to deal with the results of state budget cuts while at the same time, expected to perform to perfection with limited resources in order to meet state mandates.

In Fiscal Year 2013, Ohio’s schools are facing a budget deficit of over $1.13 billion.  The financial outlook becomes bleaker in Fiscal Year 2014, when the combined budget deficit reaches over $1.78 billion.  These unprecedented cuts have led to teacher and staff layoffs and potential reductions in curriculum across the state.

School districts have taken massive hits on Governor Kasich’s watch. Lakewood City Schools’ projections for the next two fiscal years are short by about $13-15 million. If we want to just get by, the money will have to come from somewhere. Lawmakers can’t keep crying wolf about our schools, saying we have to defund them to “fix them”.  Not only does doing so work against students, families and teachers, but it builds a narrative that public education is so askew that we should settle on privatizing tax dollars for education without acknowledging the excellence that also exists in many of our public schools.

Just a few weeks ago, Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers took retirement packages. The district plans on shortening the school day and cutting music and arts programs. At the same time, the district has devised a transformation strategy and will ask voters to further subsidize public education in the area due to some $60 million that was slashed from our district in the biennium budget. Surely we can all agree that there are cost savings measures which could put in place. Teachers consistently take pay cuts, pay for supplies with their salary, and see reductions in benefits. Already, teachers in Cleveland have settled on a 5-6 percent pay cut next year. There’s no compromise from the state.

I want to state here that I support Mayor Jackson’s plan as presented to the Legislature through HB 525. I participated in many of the planning meetings in a process nothing short of amazing. A group of concerned leaders from the Mayor, school superintendent, business and philanthropy made room at the table to include teachers and legislators to refine a plan in hopes of reinventing the CMSD.  I support the legislation as introduced because sometimes exercising leadership requires taking a risk, and this plan gives hope to our children and their future beyond partisan rhetoric.

In this challenging climate other casualties emerge that give me pause. Women are disproportionately affected by education budget cuts as they make up the majority of teachers in our state.  According to the Cleveland Teachers Union, 63% of those who will lose their job with the Cleveland City Schools are women.  The Department of Education states that 85,045.00 of the total 113,123.00 teachers in Ohio are women.  Defunding education certainly will have a negative impact on women and their families. Not much appreciation felt here.

Today, as we continue to face economic challenges, budget deficits, and competing requests for funds such as quality education for all, the public may begin to place blame and point to quick fixes.  But in the spirit of National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s remember that our teachers are actually investing in Ohio and our children. Maybe the state should think about doing the same.

Republican Budget Cuts Responsible for More than 700 Teacher Layoffs this Week Alone

State Representatives Denise Driehaus and Mike Foley urged the Republican legislature and Gov. Kasich to take a serious look at the Kids and Communities First Fund announced by House Democrats this week.  The fund would help offset historically deep budget cuts after the layoff of more than 700 teachers that was disclosed over the course of two days.

Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers take retirement packages.  The district will also shorten the school day and cut music and arts programs.  These layoffs come even as the district will place a $65 million levy on the ballot in the fall to close the budget hole created by the $59 million the district will lose due to state budget cuts. Additionally, the Cleveland Teachers Union agreed to a 5.6 – 6 percent pay cut for next year.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/17/12]

“These kinds of cuts will only continue statewide if we do not take action to curb Gov. Kasich’s massive budget cuts.  This week’s news is incredibly disheartening,” said Rep. Foley. “While unemployment rates slowly go down more than 700 teachers were laid off this week in two of the state’s largest districts.”

Cincinnati City Schools, the highest ranked urban district in the state, announced 237 teacher layoffs this week due to $43 million dollars in budget cuts.  The district says the layoffs are due to funding cuts. Cincinnati City Schools faces a projected deficit of more than $53 million ($53,868,502) in fiscal year 2013 and a frightening $115 million ($115,099,388) in fiscal year 2014.  Julie Sellers, President of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers was quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer as saying, “This year already most of our grievances were about overloaded classrooms…” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/18/12]

“These layoffs will not only hurt our children’s education and future, they will hurt the families of those losing jobs, predominantly women,” said Rep. Driehaus. “Gov. Kasich’s policies are bad for economic development and bad for women.  Our communities deserve better, but unfortunately we’re seeing that women and families are being disproportionally affected. I urge my Republican colleagues and Gov. Kasich to put partisan politics aside and do what is right for our children and their teachers by passing the Kids and Communities First Fund.”

This week, House Democrats announced the Kids and Communities First Fund will be offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487).  This fund will help keep teachers in the classroom and cops and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio. Additionally, this fund will help curb the growing need for local tax levies due to state budget cuts and provide relief for local property taxpayers. The fund will make up to $400 million available this year from surplus revenue (currently $265 million), a portion of the Budget Stabilization Fund ($120 million), and $15 million from Gov. Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase.  The fund would be replenished after fiscal year 2013 by increased severance tax revenue.

-30-


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 962 other followers

Ohio House Dems on Twitter!

Twitter Button