Delaware News

Craft: Area districts deserve fair share of state cash

District leaders prepare to ask state lawmakers to get rid of funding cap

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Delaware County school districts hope that when it comes to state funding, the squeaky wheel will get the grease.

Some county school districts are coming together to present a unified voice to legislators and ask them to rethink the current school district funding legislation.

Paul Craft, Delaware City Schools superintendent, said the current state funding formula is more accurate than it has been in the past.

However, there are funding caps that prevent districts -- including Delaware -- from receiving the amount of money they should receive based on the formula, he said.

"The formula calls for districts to receive much more than they are," Craft said. "For example, the Olentangy school district is only receiving 67 percent of what they should be receiving from the state."

That's because the law prevents district funding from growing by more than 6 percent each year, Craft said.

"If a district is only receiving 40 percent of what the formula says, they are only allowed to receive a 6 percent increase, instead of the 60 percent the formula says they should have," he said.

Many districts that should be bringing in more state money are instead having to go to voters to ask for funding, Craft said.

"We are having to tax our citizens more money because the state is not funding us the money we need," he said.

Craft said he has been working with local legislators, but he wants other local superintendents to join him.

"We want to speak with one voice, and not just represent school districts in Delaware County, but school districts from all across Ohio," he said. "We're not the only ones not getting what we should."

Craft said he believes the state can make decisions to ensure districts are receiving the money they deserve.

"Choices can be made to fully fund the formula," he said. "Last year, the governor had a choice between fully funding the schools budget or providing an income-tax cut. He chose the income-tax cut."

Craft wants lawmakers to make sure the districts with the largest discrepancies between what they should collect and what they do collect -- such as Delaware and Olentangy -- to receive funds first.

"In other words, they should fill in the deepest potholes first," he said. "Make sure these districts are receiving what they should before providing increases to fully funded districts.

"We want to have the money from the state so we can give our taxpayers more time before going on the ballot and asking them for more money."

Craft said he believes the economy has recovered enough to make sure schools receive adequate state funding.

"I think if the economy continues to grow, they will have more flexibility in the budget," he said. "I believe they will have the funds for exactly this kind of initiative."

In the next couple of months, superintendents of Delaware County school districts will meet to prepare for approaching state legislators during the state's budget review in June, Craft said.

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