Ohio Schools: Rising to the Challenge for No Tax Increases
- Jan 24, 2012 | Susan McLain
Policy Matters Ohio, a non-profit, nonpartisan policy research organization, performed a recent survey of Ohio school districts to find out how they are going to handle a $1.8 billion reduction in funding from the state budget, House Bill 153. The answer: “…they are cutting teachers and programs, boosting class size, and requiring students to pay to participate in extracurricular activities.”
Despite cuts, “more than a quarter of respondents anticipate being in official fiscal distress in the coming year.” According to the survey, the number of districts that face a budget gap rose to nearly two-thirds. However, they don’t want to come back on the local community with a request for higher taxes to handle that gap. Instead, “most respondents said they will manage budget shortfalls through labor cost containment” that includes salary freezes, pay cuts and reductions in force. Reductions will naturally mean larger class sizes as administrators strive to balance the work load.
In addition to increasing class sizes, nearly half of respondents “…said they plan to reduce expenditures on materials, supplies and equipment,” and a smaller percentage indicated reducing course offerings and instruction in the arts.
The survey indicated that “long-term investment in education remains the best way to build opportunity for Ohioans.” And that would mean taxing “emerging and growing” parts of the economy including “…oil and gas production as well the collection of taxes on internet sales by out-of-state retailers.”