Jan. 21, 2020 -- The District is compiling and sharing answers to the approximately 80 questions submitted ahead of the January 9 public presentation on school funding. Twelve questions and answers are provided here, and more will be addressed periodically in the coming days.
Have you considered what happens to property taxes in CH-UH over the next 5, 10 and 15 years if our $615 million five year budget grows at 2 or 2.5% a year? Have you taken a look at the future levy requirements beyond the 7.9 mill levy at 2 or 2.5% budget growth? If not, why not? If so, what do the new millage requirements look like at 2 or 2.5% budget growth over the next 5, 10 and 15 years?
Inflation is a reality, and school funding is flat (both at the state level and with property taxes via HB 920). Until funding is fixed in Ohio, periodic levies are necessary - particularly given the drain on funds by vouchers. We continue to advocate for change in the funding of public schools in general so that there is a progressive revenue source for education.
Why does the 5 year forecast never budget for estimated changes in enrollment? Increases or decreases.
District enrollment for the last few years has been stable. The forecast assumes this trend will continue for the foreseeable future, and minor enrollment changes when spread across all grade levels and buildings don’t necessarily translate to changes in the budget.
Does the 5 year forecast account for increased commercial collections from properties like Cedar Center South?
Yes. The County provides the total assessed valuation of property (including commercial property) and calculates the amount of revenue a new levy will bring in.
How much money are voucher schools taking out of the CH-UH schools per year?
We lost $4.2 million last year and an estimated $6.8 million this year. In this video clip, Board President Jodi Sourini breaks it all down.
How much money do we receive from the state for educating students in CH-UH schools, and is it worth it -- could we opt out of school testing requirements, for example? Would we be better off if "unranked" and without state funding?
We are currently receiving approximately $21 million in state foundation funding annually. Assuming that opting out is an option, in addition to losing this amount, we would presumably also not be eligible for the many other state and federal grants we receive to supplement our programs.
If the State of Ohio funds vouchers directly rather than through the deduction method, does that delay the need for a levy?
If all EdChoice vouchers were funded directly from the state, we could delay the need for a levy.
Why didn’t the district explore the call to action in Columbus BEFORE voting to place the levy on the ballot - isn’t this backwards?
CH-UH Board of Education members have been actively advocating for EdChoice funding changes for a couple of years now. In this clip, Board Member Dan Heintz lists steps that have been taken, both before and after the board voted to place a levy on the ballot in late 2019.
There have been a number of rumors about wasteful spending by the district, including the number and pay of principals and school nurses. What is the true cost of non-teacher personnel and other administrative overhead, and to what extent are these positions required by state regulations?
The Ohio Department of Education 2019 Report Card for the District indicates that 67.1% of the budget at CH-UH is spent on classroom instruction, compared to an average of 63.3% in peer districts and 58% for Ohio.
Can we look at privatizing transportation? Euclid has outsourced their busing at considerable savings.
CH-UH considers all options. Districts who have chosen to outsource transportation have shared that there is no substantial savings and service suffers considerably.
District expenses have steadily been around $112 million since 2016. However, expenses are expected to grow from $117 million in 2019 to $127 million in 2023. Why?
The district made $3.25 million in staff reductions in FY 16/17 and $1.3 million in FY 17/18 in an effort to offset increasing voucher deductions and stretch the current levy to a 4th year. An additional $750,000 in each year of the forecast is assumed moving forward, but cuts above that will affect the programs and instruction currently offered.
Why is the CH-UH school district grouping in non Ed-Choice programs like the Peterson and Autism scholarships and calling those “vouchers”? That seems misleading. The Peterson and Autism scholarships have been around for many years and provide important support to students with special learning needs. Nothing has changed with regard to these programs.
While we do show the Jon Peterson and Autism scholarships together with EdChoice in financial graphics, it's important to note that the cost of those scholarships has remained steady and manageable. EdChoice, on the other hand, has exploded to the point of unsustainability for our district.
The CH-UH 5 year budget is $200-250 million more than every other comparable schools district in greater Cleveland. If you compare the CH-UH 5 year forecast to Euclid - which is a larger district than CH-UH and also pays vouchers - we are on track to spend over $1 billion more than Euclid over 20 years. What accounts for this massive difference in spending and how is it sustainable long term for our community?
When comparing our per pupil spending to peer districts, our spending is not an outlier.
However, as CFO Scott Gainer explains in this clip, there are caveats to making direct comparisons to other districts in terms of spending.
Full event video: