An Ohio school district is asking to be reimbursed by the state for money the district sent to area charter schools under a funding formula that requires some districts to give more money to charters per student than the district gets from the state for each of its own students.
The Northmont Board of Education voted to send a bill for $430,000 to Gov. John Kasich’s office and to other state lawmakers. That amount represents the difference between what the school district sent to its charter schools and what it was provided by the state, said officials at Northmont City Schools, a district just outside of Dayton.
Northmont officials said Ohio’s school funding formula provides about $3000 per pupil in state funding to Northmont schools each year. But the formula requires Northmont to provide charter schools with $5800 for each student in the district who attends a charter school. That difference is made up with funds from local property taxes, those officials said.
Supt. Dr. Sarah Zatik called the $430,000 invoice largely symbolic. Zatik said the measure passed by the school board was intended to highlight a funding formula that requires Northmont to give to charter schools nearly $2800 more per pupil than it receives in state funding for its own pupils.
“We’re financially frustrated,” said Zatik. “We only get $3033 per student, but we have to turn around and give charters $5800. We’re saying, ‘Please put a stop to this.’”
Asked why Ohio would estimate the cost to educate a charter student to be $2800 more than a public school student in the same school district, Northmont City Schools Treasurer Ann Bernardo said, “That’s the million dollar question. We’ve asked that question, but never gotten a good answer.”
As the number of charter schools continues to increase, the school district has seen the amount it is required to send to those charters increase as well. In total, Northmont City Schools was required to transfer $1.3 million to area charter schools this year, Bernardo said. By comparison, it sent $94,600 to charter schools in 2002.
In response to the growing financial burden, North City Schools will place a question on the local ballot this March asking voters to approve an increase to their property tax rate. “This is how Ohio funds its schools,” Zatik said. “You have to go back to voters every four or five years to ask for an increase.”
Zatik said that if the rate increase is not passed, the district will need to eliminate teaching positions. “We’re caught between a rock and hard place because we want to make sure our students are successful.”