By Denise Dick
While no Mahoning Valley school districts would get less state money in Gov. John Kasich’s proposed biennium budget, most wouldn’t get any more either.
In Mahoning County, only Austintown, Boardman, Campbell, Sebring, Struthers and Youngstown would see increases in each of the next two years with Boardman logging the largest at 26 percent for next year and 25 percent for fiscal year 2015, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by the governor’s office.
It looks good, according to Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca, but he’s waiting for more information about any restrictions on the money. Austintown would see a 13 percent increase next year and a 3 percent increase the following year, according to the estimates.
“We’re very optimistic about what we see but hesitant because it still has to go through the legislative level,” he said. “We have to see where it ends up. We’ll be pleased if we see more money from the state, especially because we’ve been cut the last several years.”
In Trumbull County, the largest increase would go to Lordstown with 106 percent next year and 25 percent in fiscal year 2015. Bristol, Brookfield, Girard, Howland, LaBrae, McDonald, Niles and Warren also would realize increases.
“Like most superintendents, I’m relieved that it’s not a negative number,” said Stan Watson, Liberty superintendent. His district’s allotment won’t change for either year.
He questions, however, why some other districts will see increases.
Liberty is a unique district with a property valuation similar to Poland’s but student demographics that are more like Campbell’s, he said.
“That’s based on the pocketed areas of tremendous wealth there are in Liberty Township that drives that up,” Watson said. “It looks as if this is a fairly wealthy school district, but obviously, this isn’t a fairly wealthy school district.”
In Columbiana County, only two districts, Columbiana and Salem, would see the budgets go up 3 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in fiscal year 2014. The following year, Salem and Wellsville would see increases of 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
Kasich announced his plans for a revised school-funding plan last week, emphasizing that no district would receive less money.
The governor’s plan also includes grant opportunities for districts using innovation in the classroom to help students learn.