GALLIA COUNTY — According to a recently released two-year proposed budget by Gov. John Kasich, schools across Ohio will either be receiving increased budget injections or losses, as Kasich seeks to focus on school enrollment numbers.
Gallia County Local Schools would not see an increase in school funding from the state. According to a finance database provided by the Columbus Dispatch, estimated aid to come for the 2017 fiscal year for the district totals at $12,108,859.82. Fiscal year 2018 would see aid dropped to $11,706,891.81. This would mean a loss of 3.3 percent in funding.
According to Gallia County Local Superintendent Jude Meyers, the school’s general fund budget is roughly $25 million in order to operate a year.
Gallia County Local Schools officials believe the state to be basing decisions using enrollment figures for the county dating between 2011 and 2016 to account for the drop. The state reportedly seeing lower enrollment numbers would then give out less money to local schools. Ohio public schools receive more funding from the state based on the number of students they enroll.
Both Meyers and his colleague Director of Instructional Services Rochelle Halley, believe the drop in funding to favor urban areas while leaving rural schools with another challenge to overcome. According to data provided by school officials, between fiscal years 2011 and 2015, county enrollment numbers dropped by around 235.32 students. Fiscal year 2011 started with 2414.32 students. In fiscal year, 2016, enrollment jumped with the implementation of new school programs. By fiscal year 2017, enrollment numbers had counted 2438 students, including students in preschool programs, digital initiatives, vocational classing and post-secondary class opportunities.
Meyers feels the system is punishing rural schools by not taking into account real-time enrollment data when he states that schools have a habit of having that data available already. He and Halley say that rural schools surrounding them are also suffering from the same fate with Vinton County Local Schools suffering a potential loss in funding of over $600,000.
Gallia County Local Schools officials say in the past few years they have taken steps to improve educational efforts to remain competitive with modern demands. With the addition of online classing, a preschool program, updated technological equipment and software, along with the implementation of a dual-busing system, enrollment figures are rising again.
According to Meyers, Kasich said in January at an education awards presentation his budget would allow for one percent yearly increases for the Ohio Department of Education.
“If you want to provide a one percent (in additional funds) to education, why is anyone getting cut?” said Meyers.
Meyers and Halley both feel the state education system needs reviewed as they feel rural schools continually have resources pulled from them that are otherwise available to urban locations.
Both officials said they planned to contact nearby legislators in an attempt to voice their concerns as the proposed budget has yet to be approved.
“We’re still figuring things out and we’ll get through tough times just as we always have,” said Meyers. “We’ve integrated some great programs which have helped and we’re always out to do the best by our students.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.