State Lawmakers from NW
Ohio Decry Education Budget Cuts
By La Prensa Staff
The governor has ordered some stiff budget cuts for the last two
months of this year’s budget cuts, many of those affecting K-12
education, prompting an outcry from at least one Northwest Ohio
lawmaker. Gov. Mike DeWine last week slashed the state
budget by $776 million, including $300 million from K-12
education. The state fiscal year ends on June 30, 2020.
School buildings will be closed at least through the end of the
academic year and likely for most of the summer. Whether classes
will resume as normal in the fall is another question mark. But
the state’s tax collections dropped by $875 million in April, as
the economy plummeted when many businesses were forced to close
as part of Ohio’s pandemic response plan.
Teachers and students have continued classwork online with
little time to prepare,
while districts scrambled to provide learning tools for online
classes—in many cases, Google Chromebooks, Internet access, and
Toledo Public Schools will lose $3.6 million,
or about one percent of its annual budget. But TPS
administrators already had implemented a spending freeze to
absorb an anticipated funding cut. Under a state formula,
suburban school districts lost a higher percentage of their
budgets, even though the overall amount is less than TPS.
“Public schools have become lifelines to communities throughout
the pandemic. With only a few days’ notice, educators found new
ways to provide students with free meals, Wi-Fi hotspots and so
much more,” said Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “Our
public schools are already being asked to do more with less and
announcing these drastic cuts on Teacher Appreciation Day was a
devastating blow to the professionals who are heroes to Ohio’s
Local school administrators worry more about the long-term
effect of the pandemic response and the revenues that may be
lost if state tax collections continue to lag and property taxes
go unpaid because unemployed residents defer or ignore payment
deadlines. The status of the 2020-21 academic year is still up
in the air, especially what form education will take.
The immediate problem, though, is balancing the budgets of local
school districts, who are required to do so under state law by
the end of the fiscal year June 30. Some districts will rely on
reserve funds, others plan staffing cuts, and some even raised
sports participation fees.
An Ohio Dept. of Education spokesperson points out
some help is on the way from the federal government through the
coronavirus relief bill.
Ohio will receive $489 million to support K-12 education, with
$440 million available directly to local schools, based on their
percentages of low-income students. Similarly to how they
receive other federal support, districts must first apply for
the funds and use them for specific purposes by September 2021.
Nationwide, educators are calling on the federal government to
The governor’s budget director also pointed out the K-12
education cuts could have been much worse. The state saved money
already by canceling state testing and other actions during the
onset of the pandemic.
Some public school districts also got a budget reprieve when the
Ohio General Assembly rolled back an expansion of private school
vouchers to a list first produced in 2018. That expansion would
have cost many districts a lot of their state funding formula
with nearly three times the number of school buildings as listed
in academic distress. But the coronavirus pandemic has pushed a
permanent fix on school vouchers to the sidelines for now.
remainder of the governor’s budget cut plan affects higher
education, Medicaid, and a percentage of each state agency’s
annual budget. The governor’s budget director stated that if
state revenue collections continue to lag, future cuts would be
needed in consultation with the Ohio lawmakers. Those would come
during the second year of the state’s biennial budget.