Jan. 29, 2020 --
The District is compiling and sharing answers to the approximately 80 questions submitted ahead of the January 9 public presentation on school funding. Eleven questions and answers are provided here, and more will be addressed periodically in the coming days.
Why can’t a renewable levy be on the ballot instead of a permanent levy if we have a problem of timing of funding and state budget?
Renewable levies make long-term planning difficult and result in voter confusion/fatigue based on the need for districts to be on the ballot more often; not only to try to renew money they were already receiving, but also to secure new funds.
Why isn’t the CH-UH school district being honest and realistic about what our enormous $615 million five year budget means for the future of our community? If you run the numbers out into the future over the next 5, 10, 15 years at 2 or 2.5% growth, they become astronomical. And there is strong evidence that the community is struggling with the current tax levels. What happens to CH-UH when we try to force through the property tax increases that are coming at 2 or 2.5% budget growth? Does the district care what is happening with tax delinquencies and imploding home values? Are we going to wait for a crisis or recession to bring spending in line with incomes in our community? How is that fair to anyone? Isn’t it better to bring spending down slowly instead of waiting for a crisis and then making drastic cuts?
One of the many great things about our community is the fact it is primarily residential, but unfortunately that also means that residents shoulder the responsibility of supporting schools due to the way public education is funded in Ohio. We have been making staffing reductions in recent years (more than $5 million since the last levy) and $750,000 in future cuts is embedded in each year of the five-year forecast. Unfortunately our efforts are being thwarted to a large degree by the disproportionately high volume of EdChoice vouchers.
If we were an open enrollment district wouldn’t we receive into the district the same amount of funds per pupil we are worried we are losing through EdChoice? Could we avoid a levy by doing this?
If we became an open enrollment district we would receive state funding for students who live in other districts but chose to come here. Without knowing how many students from other districts would take advantage of this option, what their needs might be, and if doing so would prompt other neighboring districts to become open enrollment as well (thus potentially resulting in a net loss of students) it is difficult to estimate the impact of such a decision.
The State of Ohio Auditor Office offers Performance Audits for School districts. CHUH is not on the list of completed audits since 2011. Districts can request the audit and will receive cost management recommendations. Has CHUH requested this assistance?
67.1% of district funds are spent on classroom instruction, compared to 63.3% average of nearby districts and 58% average state-wide. These types of audits focus on non-instructional areas of the organization that have already been addressed through national benchmarking (staff levels of cleaners for example) as well as participation in the Ohio Schools Council consortium for purchasing and other best practices.
General Fund Actual Revenue in 2018 was $118.5 million. Yet, the 2019 Forecast predicted a revenue of only $107.9 million, a nearly $10 million reduction in revenue. Why?
As indicated in the assumptions that accompany the forecast, “the change in the tax code beginning January 2017 resulted in significant increases in prepayments ($1.5 million) and payment of delinquencies ($1 million) – this created a timing issue where FY 18 taxes were inflated and FY 19 taxes will similarly be decreased by the prepayment amount. The District also saw a large number of settlements of commercial property tax complaints at the end of FY 18 ($1 million). The reserve for the recent ruling on the tax-exempt status of the Kaiser facility near Severance has been deducted from payments to the District ($3 million for tax years 2013/2014/2015, which is included as a decrease in FY19).”
Can you please clarify why when the district says raises are only 1/2% or 1% etc the state treasurer data shows much larger raises almost every year. Is there a second type of raise given to many staff every year?
Staff may receive an annual cost of living increase based on labor negotiations. Many staff may also be moving along a salary schedule based on years of experience or attainment of additional education, which would result in an increase.
What is the avenue for voters to get their money back in two years when the new state budget kicks in and the district will then see an increase in revenues for vouchers?
We can’t say with any certainty that we will see an increase in revenue for vouchers with the next biennial budget. In fact, experience has shown us otherwise. Any changes at the state level that substantively affect our funding will be reflected in the forecast reviewed monthly by the Board and will ultimately affect the timing and amount of any future levies.
Does the School Board prepare or consider an economic study on the community impact and affordability of the tax increase?
The District takes seriously its fiduciary responsibility and is sensitive to the tax burden of our community. We attempt to minimize levy requests while considering the needs of the students and the expectations of the residents in determining the programming and services offered as well as the funding necessary to provide them.
Why would taxpayers have to pay more taxes through a levy to cover the state transfer of funds to another public school that a student attends?
Students can only attend another public school if that district permits it through open enrollment. In that situation, $6,020 is deducted from the district the student lives in and is sent to the open enrollment district, but because of the state budget freeze the district the student lives in receives no additional money from the state. It works similarly to EdChoice vouchers.
Why and how much state funding do private schools receive annually even though they obtain tuition from students?
Private schools receive no additional funding. Nonpublic schools receive some funding from the state which passes through the District as fiduciary agent.
Even if a student goes to a voucher school are there items that the CHUH school funding is still paying for such as books and transportation?
For EdChoice recipients, we provide transportation, and for recipients with supsected disabilities, the District would also complete an evaluation and write any necessary Individualized Education Plans.