Copy of Board Member Langshaw’s Testimony on HB 153





APRIL 7, 2011

Good afternoon, Chairman Carey, ranking member Lundy, and members of the Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on HB 153 the State Operating Budget. My name is Dan Langshaw and I am member of the North Royalton School Board.

The North Royalton City School District is located in southwest Cuyahoga County and encompasses both the city of North Royalton and parts of the neighboring city of Broadview Heights. Our public school district provides education K-12 to over 4,700 students in our community. Today, I have made the two hour drive down I-71 to voice strong opposition to the proposed State Budget for Primary and Secondary Education on behalf of my board, students, teachers, taxpayers, and community that I have been elected to serve.

Last week the Ohio Office of Budget and Management released Governor Kasich’s recommendations for State Foundation Aid for school districts for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The overall budget plan slashes funding to K-12 education by a total of $3.1 billion over the next two years compared to fiscal year 2011. The discussion of the budget not being as bad as some had feared in education is a direct result of the Governor choosing to ease some of the budget pain on the backs of communities like ours.

Governor John Kasich’s Budget Proposal is a devastating funding loss to the North Royalton City School District to the tune of almost $5 million dollars in the next biennium budget. The acceleration of the tangible personal property tax reimbursement means the district begins losing revenue in the coming year of almost $871,000 and a total two year reduction of $1,732,000 of what were once locally raised tax revenues. To say that we are shocked at the Governor’s budget proposal is a severe understatement.

The budget submitted by the Governor takes what were once locally levied tax revenues, money from our school community and claims it for the state’s General Revenue Fund. These proposed cuts are dramatic in their impact on our school district and unfair to the residents of our school community. I ask you to consider extending the current reimbursement level an additional two years and then restructure the phase-out so that it occurs over a longer period than presently in law. If the legislature insists upon beginning a phase-out in fiscal 2012, and will not extend the phase-our period, please consider applying the original phase-out schedule included in H.B. 66 adopted as the budget in 2005.

The State Foundation Aid proposed by the Governor has our school district scheduled to lose over $1.8 million dollars in the coming biennium. When one factors in other cuts proposed in the Governor’s budget including the loss of federal stimulus funds, our school district would lose nearly $5 million dollars in his proposed biennium budget. Of the more than 600 school districts in the State of Ohio, only 22 districts stand to lose more in the percentage cut from our budget and just 60 lose more in total dollars.

The North Royalton School District has met every state and federal accountability measure imposed upon us, and our students continue to achieve at the highest of levels. Our school district continues to rank high in performance with one of the lowest cost per pupil expenditures in the entire county. As referenced by Forbes Magazine, the North Royalton City School District offers one of the best school districts for the housing dollar in the entire country. In May 2009 our community stepped up during one of the toughest recessions since the Great Depression to pass a 6.2 mil levy because they value public education! Our community has done all that they can do, yet their reward is the state failing to do their fair share. The Governor may claim to be holding the line on taxes at the state level, but his actions are clearly passing the greater tax burden onto local communities like the North Royalton City School District.

John F. Kennedy once said “our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education”. HB 153 does the complete opposite it sets progress that has been made in education and school funding in the state of Ohio backwards at least a decade or more! In addition I fear this proposed budget raises serious constitutional issues regarding school funding. I believe it may again require the Ohio Supreme Court to review constitutionality of how the state funds public education as it did in the decade old DeRolph v. State rulings that declared school funding in Ohio as unconstitutional. This is unacceptable, now is the time state should invest more into public education in order to help Ohioans get back to work!

In closing, every biennium budget the state changes the way school funding is done here in Ohio. We oppose HB 153 and urge the legislature to focus on including some form of cap on the percentage reduction that any district must endure in this biennium budget.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.