Lost revenue hits Ohio schools hard

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Tuesday he’s not ready to tap into the state’s $2.7 billion rainy day fund just yet. But his plan to cut $355 million dollars from schools may force some districts to dip into their cash reserves to make it through the next two months.

Barbara Shaner, legislative specialist with the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, said with just two months left in the fiscal year, the abrupt state cuts were a disappointment.

“I think a lot of school treasurers were hoping that we could get by through the end of this year,” Shaner said. “The staff has already been under contract. We’ve been teaching and doing  things remotely but the obligation of expenses for schools, it’s kind of hard to cut back on those this late in the school year.”

The Ohio Federation of Teachers expressed immediate concern over the proposed education cuts.

“Our K-12 schools need more resources, more technology, and more staff to meet our students’ growing emotional, physical, and academic needs,” president Melissa Cropper said in a statement.

The cuts were part of $775 million dollars in cuts from the state budget that DeWine said are needed because of plummeting tax revenue due to the pandemic.

The spending reductions are necessary now to avoid worse cuts down the road and will affect every state agency except the prisons department, DeWine said. The state went from running $200 million ahead in revenue estimates in February to the nearly three-quarter billion drop last month.

Shaner says if districts spend their reserves now, they could be less prepared to deal with more problems down the road.

“Starting in the next fiscal year we’re going to start seeing tax delinquencies for property taxes go up,” Shaner said. “So, the district’s revenues at the local level will be impacted and the districts that have income taxes will be impacted as well.”

Shaner says the uncertainty about the future impact of the pandemic will cause school district officials to take a cautious approach.

“They’re not going to have expenditures that they can’t pay for in the next school year,” Shaner said. “I think you will see some districts cutting staff in the next school year and some of that will have to be done very soon based on contracts and notification timelines and that kind of thing.”

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