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    Posted: Feb 05 2013 at 8:58am
Updated: 5:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 | Posted: 5:43 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, 2013

Local school districts react to state budget proposal

By Hannah Poturalski

Staff Writer

Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday identified education funding and reform among top priorities in his proposed 2014-15 budget.

The proposal followed Thursday’s unveiling of Kasich’s new “Achievement Everywhere” school funding and reform plan that, among measures, assured school districts they would receive at least as much money for the next two years as they did this year.

Butler Tech Treasurer Ed Pokora said he’s encouraged by what he’s seen from Kasich’s biennial budget and school funding model. He said it remains to be seen the direct impact on Butler Tech — which has 10 home schools in Butler and Hamilton counties, and also offers adult programs.

“Workforce development and career tech has been a big part (of the proposals),” Pokora said. “The emphasis about job creation is very positive.”

Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia said she’s also encouraged by Kasich’s emphasis on innovation and college credit to high school students, and the increased flexibility being given to schools — such as the conversion of 184 school days into hours required.

But Mantia remained focused on the governor’s release of funding simulations — expected in the coming weeks — which will be tailored for individual districts based on concentrations of economically disadvantaged students, the number of gifted and special needs students, etc.

Mantia said the per-pupil amount for economically disadvantaged students could be as high as $1,000 per pupil or as low as $20 per student, depending on the district. Lakota has a 19 percent poverty rate, which has been increasing, according to Mantia.

“The voter needs to know and understand this isn’t a wonderful deluge of money from the sky but a redistribution of funds,” Mantia said.

Kasich’s budget proposal would boost state aid by $1.2 billion over two years, including $548 million more for base funding for school districts.

About 11 percent of the funding comes from state lottery profits and the rest from general revenue funds, which Kasich has said is the result of an improved state economy.

“We’re very appreciative of the governor’s stress on higher education,” said David Hodge, president of Miami University. “We had been working with his office to move up to 50 percent the resources based on graduation rate so we’re pleased he responded with a 1.9 percent increase each year of the biennium.”

In regard to the 2 percent cap on tuition increases, Hodge said, “We’re comfortable with that. We think it’s important to have some tuition increases because we have a lot of investments that we need to recoup.”

Hamilton City Schools’ Treasurer Robert Hancock said the district deferred further comment on Kasich’s budget until the specific district calculations become available.

The same was said from officials at Carlisle Local Schools and the Middletown City School District.

Staff writers Rick McCrabb and Richard O Jones contributed to this report.

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