This week, Barbara Shaner, Associate Executive Director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, speaks with Carole Dorn-Bell about Ohio Governor John Kasich’s budget proposal. The agencies and school districts that operate under the Ohio education budget start their new fiscal year on July 1. Carole and Barbara talk about what the budget proposal could mean for education and what happens between now and June 30th when the budget must be passed.
It is important to note that the actual language of the proposed budget has not been released yet. Also remember that this budget now has to go through committees and before both the Ohio House and Senate so a lot of changes will be made through this process — and there is a lot of time to provide feedback through public hearings.
“Everyone who will be affected by this budget will have the opportunity to weigh in.”
An overall look at the budget proposal from Governor Kasich’s office is that there won’t be much increase in funding for schools. (Note that schools that were previously capped may experience greater increases in this new fiscal year.) Ohio’s economy has been slow to recover from the recession a few years ago. Unemployment is down but job growth as well as salary growth has been slow in the last year. Significant income and business tax cuts has also restricted opportunities for budget growth. All of this means that basic aid, disadvantaged student aid, limited English proficiency, etc won’t be increased over the next 2 years.
In Ohio, only the governor’s office produces a budget and the House turns it into a bill through committee hearings that create a new version of the budget which generally reflects the overall scope of the governor’s budget but has a lot of changes in the details. This revised budget then goes through the same process in the Senate.
While educators anxiously await the release of the budget’s actual language, there are already a few details that propose a significant change for school districts. “The proposals by the governor’s work force commission include that 3 non-voting members be added to every board of education, all coming from the business community.” This presents a lot of questions that will be asked over the next few months during the budget process. One thing that the Ohio Association of School Business Officials will discuss is that schools are already required to have a business advisory council separate from the board. It might be prudent to audit how those councils are being used and what can be done to make those relationships more successful.
For now, Barbara advises to hold judgement until the official language is released but make sure to be paying attention and participating in the feedback process. What is the best way to get involved? Testify in public hearings and humanize your testimony by tying your opinions on the budget with real stories from your district. You can also meet with your representatives and invite them to your school.
“Tell your story and your district’s story. Your successes and your challenges. What are you doing with your funds the state is giving you now? What will the proposed budget do if it is enacted and what impact will it have on the students in your district?”
Use your established communication vehicles — social media and newsletters — to inform the community about what you are facing in terms of local, state and federal funding and ask supporters to help advocate for your school.