Real facts about school funding

There is a false belief being perpetrated about tax levies for the CH-UH school district.

To begin with, in over 90 percent of the districts in Ohio, operating tax levies expire after 3–5 years. Those districts have to go back to voters to request the same millage level (such as a "replacement" levy), or to increase the millage to cover unexpected, often short-term, expenses (typically called "addition" levies), every 3–5 years. The reasoning is that the districts are supposed to have demonstrated good stewardship of the money they are given to educate children in order to keep getting that much money or more "additional" money.

Once a levy is passed, the dollar amount that millage provides [to] the district remains unchanged during the life of that levy—typically 3–5 years. When districts put replacement levies on the ballot every 3–5 years, the millage reflects the dollar amount that district believes it needs to cover its operating expenses for the next 3–5 years. The millage is chosen to provide that dollar amount.

None of that applies here in CH-UH.

We have PERMANENT levies. They do not expire. The arguments a few decades back for doing this were that voters were tired of returning over and over again to give the district money. This means that the district never loses revenue from property taxes because, per HB 920, the dollar amount for each and every levy remains unchanged forever and ever.

However, the mindset here still operates on the nonexistent belief that our district "needs" to come back to us every 3–5 years to keep getting the same level of operating revenue. Decisions by CH-UH voters to approve "permanent" levies that never expire meant that our district would always have enough operating money to educate our children—because we trusted our administrators would continue to do a good job of educating our children and be good stewards of that money.

I present this because it appears to be difficult for some to understand that should this levy NOT pass, the district WILL NOT LOSE money! Currently the district receives $113,107,478 and will continue to receive $113,107,478 should this levy fail. Currently, the district receives $20,799.46 per student and spends $13,170 per student for actual classroom instruction. These numbers are from the district's financial report (CAFR).

And, since the district, according to the CAFR, expects the student enrollment numbers to drop, the funds allotted per student, which already takes into account those students who go to charter or private schools, will increase—without any "additional" operating levies.

Since I am presenting facts that some might view as "points" of view, I hope I have presented them clearly and understandably. Again, my attempts are to provide facts and hopefully to clarify where some may have a misunderstanding related to those facts.

Diane Hallum

Diane Hallum is director of Citizens Leadership, [a group that believes that] change in the status quo starts with citizens leading their officials in the right direction. [Group members] offer factual information on CH council decisions, meet to focus on key issues that matter, and develop methods to make a change for the better.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 12:04 PM, 09.30.2016