Dublin Villager

State budget includes $2.5 million increase over two years

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The recently approved two-year state budget carried mostly good news for Dublin City Schools.

The biennial budget signed into law by Gov. John Kasich at the end of June spells an increase of $2.5 million in state funding for Dublin City Schools over the next two fiscal years.

"There is a 6.25-percent increase for fiscal year 2014, which is around $900,000 in state aid and for fiscal year 2015, a 10.5-percent increase," said Stephen Osborne, Dublin City School District treasurer.

"That will be an additional $1.6 million," Osborne said.

Although state funding will bring an additional $2.5 million in revenue to the district, local property taxes make up the lion's share of revenue.

"State funding only makes up 9 percent of our general fund revenue," Osborne said.

"It's not a huge amount, but an increase is better than a decrease."

The new state budget also means the district can keep its current income from tangible personal property tax reimbursements from the state.

The reimbursements have been decreasing over the past few years taking the district from $10 million annually to $4.2 million.

"TPPT will be $4.2 million in 2014 and 2015," Osborne said. "It's staying the same ... . At least we're keeping that for now."

Not all news from the budget was good news, though.

A new plan within the state budget will shift the entire cost of new and replacement levies for the school to residents.

"It introduced the elimination of rollback. That's a disappointment," Osborne said.

"Before the state paid 12.5 percent of collections from levies and they'll continue to pay that for existing levies, but any new levies approved by the district in the future, the 12.5 percent ... will fall on district residents."

The elimination of rollback will make new levies cost more for residents and be more difficult to pass.

"It's an example of the state using that money on something else now and that tax burden falling on tax-payers," Osborne said.

"The cost per levy will be a little higher. It will be a challenge, but it's something we'll communicate."

The state budget will impact the district beyond finances, too.

Superintendent David Axner said the budget mandates the way new teacher evaluations work.

The Senate wanted the value-added measurement that records student growth over a year to count as 35 percent of teacher evaluations.

The House of Representatives, however, changed it to 50 percent.

"Student growth will have a bigger part in teacher evaluations," Axner said.

Teacher evaluations will start this coming school year and Dublin has already made changes to align with the new standards.

"We are way ahead of the game because a couple of years ago we aligned our (teacher evaluations) with Ohio standards," Axner said.

"We worked with teachers and had a one-year committee of teachers and administration that really put us in line with this," he said.

"If we had not done that there would have been a huge learning curve."

Dublin City Schools could be impacted by the state budget in other areas and is still looking into it.

"Remember the budget is 5,000 pages," Axner said. "We're still reading it."

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