Olentangy Local School District officials say they're vying to raise a cap on school funding with a proposed amendment to the state budget.

Olentangy Local School District officials say they're vying to raise a cap on school funding with a proposed amendment to the state budget.

At a school board meeting last Thursday, May 23, Superintendent Wade Lucas said district leaders have been working with state legislators to craft an amendment that would revise a part of the state's new biennial budget -- currently being debated in the Senate -- that puts a 6 percent cap on extra funding for school districts.

Since Olentangy's student body has grown by 25 percent in the past five years, Lucas said a 25 percent cap would be fairer.

"Over the past 10 years, 10,000 students came through the door with zero additional state dollars, so the local property owners have picked up that entire burden," Lucas said.

Olentangy currently receives about $4.4 million in annual funding from the state.

But under the most current version of the budget, Olentangy would receive just $4.25 million in fiscal year 2014 and $4.55 million in fiscal year 2015.

It amounts to a net loss of $7,000 in classroom funding for the district over two years, though it does afford the district an extra $4 million in funding for transportation.

That's compared to Gov. John Kasich's original budget proposal, released in March, which would have lumped an additional $15 million in fiscal year 2014 and $5 million in fiscal year 2015 on top of current funding.

It represented a massive 331 percent increase for fiscal year 2014 -- the biggest in the state -- before members of the Ohio House made revisions.

Lucas and Interim Treasurer Todd Johnson urged residents to contact state Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell) to ask him to support Olentangy's proposed amendment.

"Really, it's all about fairness," Johnson said. "Under the current formula, if there's a district that's losing students, they get put on a guarantee so they don't lose funding, but districts that are gaining students have a cap put on so we don't get the adequate funding that we need."

Olentangy is Ohio's fastest-growing district, a distinction it has earned for nine years straight, and the seventh-largest in the state overall with more than 17,750 students. Studies indicate it will likely continue to grow well past 2020 before enrollment plateaus.

But Olentangy residents also have more to spend than most. The median income for the district is $73,125, the highest in the state.

Also at the May 23 meeting, the school board approved an updated five-year financial forecast, following a first reading at the May 9 board meeting.

The conservative forecast assumes state funding will remain flat.

Still, reduced insurance costs and other savings will keep Olentangy solvent at least through the end of the 2014-15 school year, Johnson said.

At the May 9 meeting, he said he is "almost certain" the district can stretch current funding through fiscal year 2015 before returning to voters.

The forecast has some bright spots for the district: It shows revenue is up by 1.3 percent since November thanks to new construction around the district and state casino revenue.

Reduced hiring and renegotiated benefits for employees lowered projected expenditures by $4 million for fiscal year 2013.