Athens City Schools Must Manage $2 Million Cut
“Two million dollars is a lot of money to lose, even for a bigger, more well off district, which we obviously aren’t,” Martin said. “We will make reductions of at least $500,000 this coming year, maybe more. And then see what happens next year.”
The shortfall stems from the new funding procedures adopted by Ohio under Gov. Kasich’s new budget for the fiscal years of 2012 and 2013. The budget, passed by the Ohio House May 5, increases the amount of funding provided to all Ohio schools by nearly $170 million. However, the budget will lack the $875 million in education funding provided by the previous year’s federal stimulus package.
Previously the school system has benefited from federal stimulus money. This year stimulus dollars in Ohio totaled $475 million in basic aid payment. That money, however, will no longer be available.
Because of this loss, Ohio schools are facing net losses to their overall funding in the next two years. Other elements of the budget are hampering Athens City School District ability to fund its academic mission.
“The majority of our losses are from the tangible personal property tax,” Martin said. “We were being reimbursed by the state for that tax money, and now we’re not.”
The tangible personal property tax, formerly a tax on a business’ inventory and equipment stockpiles was switched to a Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) in 2005. These taxes are paid to the state, and then the state provides a portion of that money to local school districts.
“All’s I know is that I’m not getting that money anymore,” Martin said.
Martin’s main mechanism for combating the financial losses is to make cuts that he hopes will not be all encompassing, he said they would be “wide, but hopefully not too deep.”
“As staff retire, we might not replace a position that we would have,” Martin said. “We can’t lay people off for a variety of reasons, one being that because of unemployment benefits it’s not really cost effective for us, and we still need most of our staff to meet the educational mandates from the state and federal governments.”
Martin foresees cuts being made to a broad range of areas, including such categories as summer help for students, professional leave, school field trips, supplemental pay to teachers, overtime pay, among others.
“I don’t want to have to do what some other schools are doing, with making real heavy cuts to programs and activities and staff. I want to keep Athens schools on the right track,” Martin said.