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Tax phase-out unpleasant surprise for schools



Published: Thu, March 17, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.
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Executive Proposed Budget for FY 2012-13

Executive Budget for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

While area school districts were prepared for the loss of federal stimulus dollars reflected in Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal, the earlier phase-out of tangible property tax came as an unpleasant surprise.

The governor’s proposal announced Tuesday includes cuts to kindergarten-through- 12th-grade education in each of the next two fiscal years.

The loss of stimulus dollars means about a $5.5 million hit to the Youngstown school district’s operating budget, said Treasurer William Johnson.

“But if I’m looking at this right, it looks like they’re going to do something with tangible property-tax reimbursement,” Johnson said.

That’s a tax that was being phased out that businesses paid on equipment. It was viewed as unfriendly to business, but previous administrations had said that the money would be replaced to schools. It looks to area school officials, though, like that is being reduced by 30 percent.

For Youngstown, that’s an additional $1.5 million loss.

On top of that are the governor’s plans to expand the EdChoice voucher program and remove the cap on the number of charter and community schools. The voucher program enables students who attend failing schools to instead attend another school that accepts vouchers.

School districts lose money because the state funding follows the student.

But it’s even worse than that.

The Youngstown school district’s budget loses more than $30 million annually to community schools and vouchers, Johnson explained.

If funding for charter or community schools stays the same or increases while public school districts get slashed, “who pays for all that reduction is the children left in Youngstown public schools,” Johnson said.

The state provides per- pupil funding, but that amount is substantially decreased for public school districts based on local property valuation.

There is no local property charge-off for community schools though.

“If you’re going to give public schools a reduction, you also should give our direct competition the same reduction — just to make it fair as far as who you’re going to take it out on,” Johnson said.

“That’s the public school children. Ultimately, that’s what it is. It’s which children are you favoring. We are a great product and we’re doing great work.”

Lock P. Beachum Sr., Youngstown school board president, said more cuts mean the district will have to continue to be watchful with funds.

“We have to continue doing what we’ve been doing, making cuts when necessary and reviewing programs that are no longer working...” he said.

“I hope we can prevent any more staff cuts. I’d like to keep the pupil-teacher ratio where it is.”

William Bagnola, president of the Youngstown Education Association which represents the city school district’s teachers, called the budget bill disappointing.

“I think it’s going to cost jobs,” Bagnola said.

“It’s going to shift the burden back on the local taxpayer. How may times has the [Ohio] Supreme Court said that Ohio’s school funding system is overly reliant on property taxes in Ohio?”

As far as Kasich expanding vouchers and removing the cap on charter and community schools, Bagnola said the governor is supporting his friends politically, referring to charter-school operators.

“It’s pretty well known that some of his major contributors are charter-school operators,” he said.

Boardman schools Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said it’s difficult to determine what the impact of the budget proposal will be in that district because the details are fuzzy.

If the tangible property tax isn’t reimbursed, though, the district would lose about $4 million.

“That would take 5 mills in voted taxation to offset that,” Lazzeri said.

“All the state is doing is shifting the tax burden, just shifting more onto property tax payers.”

Schools are facing a lot of uncertainty.

“The state is keeping us up in the air with calamity days, keeping us up in the air with Senate Bill 5 and how that’s going to affect us, and they’re keeping us up in the air on what the budget is,” the Boardman superintendent said.

Stan Watson, Liberty schools superintendent, said the cuts are going to affect the district but it’s unclear exactly how.

“There are so many avenues where money comes from to school districts, it takes time to determine which avenues are open and which are closed,” he said.

A loss of tangible property tax would mean a roughly $250,000 reduction for Liberty, the superintendent said.


Comments

1Jake(112 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The so called "stimulus" dollars didn't stimulate anything. They were a guise for political paybacks and pork projects that only added more debt to a recessed economy and made facing reality even more difficult.

Welcome to the real world, educators, where your money doesn't automatically rise each year and you might even have to pay for part of your health insurance. Deal with it.

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2Photoman(1005 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

We have become a nation of beggars. We elect federal politicians and they go to D.C. with hat in hand to beg for money. We elect state representatives who go to Columbus to beg for dollars. Our local officials then have to beg those in both governments for dollars. Lots of kissing goes on by all of our officials and, meanwhile, we have become a welfare society with little pride in accomplishment. Our system needs reform and our citizens need to be weaned off of handouts.

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3peacelover(791 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

geromajor, I couldn't agree more. I get so tired of the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude among our elected officials.

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4madman(50 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

And now the city police are going to take the hit .this is bs.your right geromajor thay need to take pay cuts two we all have why not them

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5ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

When everyone knew that the stimulus was a one time thing, why do they continue to state that not getting that money this year is a cut?

I would also like to know why it costs so much to poorly educate children these days. When I was in school (graduated 1992) we had a building, teachers and books. The buildings were paid for, the teachers were a fixed cost and the books had been paid for. Our days were filled with lectures, assignments and tests. None of this was terribly expensive and was quite effective as all of us who graduated in my class COULD READ!

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Remember kiddy's this is what you voted for. FOOLS Live with it

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7JME(801 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

"our educators are underpaid for the important and difficult job of educating children. Why attack teachers when electricians and garbage men make more money and have benefits as well?"

I had to pick myself off the floor after laughing soo hard.

My wife is a teacher and I work in the private industry, we both have two college degrees. Let me say this:

- Teachers are well paid.
- They pay virtually nothing for health insurance compared to the private employees.

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81970mach1(1005 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Lock P. Beachum Sr., Youngstown school board president, said more cuts mean the district will have to continue to be watchful with funds.

“We have to continue doing what we’ve been doing, making cuts when necessary and reviewing programs that are no longer working...” he said.

HE GOT IT RIGHT.

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9Tigerlily(493 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Teachers are only well paid depending on the school district they teach in. Inner city teachers are not paid well.

And they do pay for their health care, quite a bit. My sister is a teacher and compared to my private sector job, she's paying almost as much as I am and making less. So JME, consider your wife lucky. She must work in a well-off district. It's not the same for most.

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10JME(801 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Tigerlily, I would considerate it an "average" district.
But I'm curious, what is the top rate for a district such as Youngstown City Schools? The inner city districts of larger cities usually are pretty good.
I'll have to dig up insurance costs between the both of our employers to see what the difference is. You must have low premiums if it's the same as a teacher.

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