Westlake School Officials Watch Closely as State Budget Moves to Senate
An amendment to cap district funding cuts at 20 percent could save city schools over $1 million, superintendent says.
Feeling the pressure from concerned parents, teachers and constituents, Ohio House Republicans offered up some changes last week to Gov. John Kasich’s proposed state budget in order to lighten the deep cuts that are planned to hit many of Ohio’s school districts in July.
The amendments proposed by house legislators would include limiting cuts to any district’s basic state aid losses to 20 percent, pouring up to $60 million into per-pupil basic state aid and cutting a plan to allow school officials and personnel to contribute 12 percent apiece into school pension funds.
Kasich’s pension plan would offset district expenses as school personnel would contribute more (from 10 percent to 12 percent) and districts would contribute less (from 14 percent to 12 percent). However, despite the potential move by legislators to cut the pension plan known as House Bill 202, it’s still moving forward through the house Health and Aging Committee.
As it stands, Keenan said there is a “decent” chance that the 20 percent cap in basic aid cuts, a move spearheaded by Westlake’s Rep. Nan Baker, will make it through the house vote on Thursday. The change would reduce the district’s projected 2011-2012 state losses from $3.1 million to $2 million, he said.
Given the positive news, Keenan said this could scale back his proposal to either eliminate or reduce the compensation of 68 district employees, but, either way, personnel cuts remain a strong probability.
“I have to prepare for multiple scenarios. That scenario (to reduce personnel expenditures) was a first draft to consider based on estimates from the governor’s budget,” he said. “This is a very fluid process and the numbers will continue to fluctuate as this budget gets passed back and forth from the house to the senate.”
“All we can do is wait and see and try to plan accordingly as the budget continues to come into focus in Columbus.”
As of Monday, house members were permitted to offer up one last round of proposed amendments to Kasich’s tentative state budget. Representatives will vote this Thursday on a final budget proposal to be reviewed the Ohio Senate, Superintendent Dan Keenan said.
To stay up to date, visit Westlake Patch for all the news on how state budget proposals may affect local education funding.