School officials question budget numbers
By Denise Dick
Boardman school officials don’t believe the district will receive a 26 percent increase in state funding next year despite what preliminary estimates from Gov. John Kasich’s office say.
“A lot will happen between now and June,” Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said. “This is his proposed idea. It has to go through the Senate and then through the House.”
He doubts that legislators from poorer districts that don’t see increases in the governor’s plan will agree to it.
The governor’s office last week released preliminary estimates of the amount of state money school districts would receive in the next two fiscal years. Those estimates listed Boardman as receiving a 26 percent increase next year and a 25 percent increase the following year, the biggest increase in Mahoning County.
Lazzeri wonders about the impact of charter schools and vouchers on the district’s state funding under the governor’s plan.
Treasurer Rich Santilli says even the amount in the preliminary estimates doesn’t recover what the district lost in the last biennium, about $2.7 million.
Even if the numbers hold, Lazzeri and Santilli question what funds will be restricted and in what way.
The preliminary estimates show the district, for example, would receive $236,000 for gifted and talented students next year.
“They’re giving us three times as much money in the gifted category as we’ve ever gotten, and it’s an important thing to do,” Lazzeri said. “But our teachers are given staff-development opportunities to provide differentiated instruction in the classroom. It’s giving money in one particular program but ignoring everyone else.”
At one time, schools were allotted money from the state and allowed to allocate it where they thought it was needed.
The district is down 32 teachers and would like to hire to reduce its student-to-teacher ratio. That number ranges from 25 students-to-1 teacher in middle and high schools to 27-to-1 in elementary schools.
The elementary ratio used to be 20-to-1, the superintendent said.