Letter to Strickland outlines Green’s struggles
Dear Governor Strickland, I am sure you are aware that I had to close the Green Primary School because of dangerous conditions.
The walls in the gym are “moving” and part of the classroom building wall is tearing apart from the main structure. Because of this, I had to move over 200 students to the Green Elementary School. This building is now over-crowded.
Students are being taught on the stage, the library had to close so it could become a classroom and the music classroom is now the pre-school. The restroom facilities are marginal for the new load of students and two classes are being instructed in an ancient modular unit across a roadway from the school.
I will have to put in modular units for next year since the old school is not worth repairing. We certainly do not have money to do any of this. I know you are clearly aware of this situation. I will re-emphasize the other school funding issues which hurt my district.
1. The current school funding formula does not work for the Green Local Schools.
According to the Cupp report, this district is one of the 50 poorest communities in Ohio. The valuation per pupil is not a good representation of the “wealth” of this district. Some of the industries in the district increase the valuation (those that are not abated), and the lower student population gives us a higher valuation per pupil than surrounding districts.
GAP aid causes us to double the amount of any levy we propose. Half of the last levy (almost 4 of 7.9 mils) would go back to Columbus because of this part of the formula.
Factor in our poverty ranking with the unfair valuation per pupil, abatements and GAP Aid and it is clear that the funding formula is not valid for this district.
2. The school facilities formula does not work for this district. For us to build a new pre-K to 12 facility, a bond issue in the 20-mil range would be needed. This nearly “doubles” the property tax for my residents.
Our local share of a new building project is 54 percent. This is because of our valuation per pupil is inflated by local industry land values. Our neighbors, Wheelersburg and Rock Hill, had around a 27 percent and 3 percent respective local share.
Their students sit in fabulous new facilities and beautifully athletic complexes while my students sit in decrepit buildings, trailers and sub-standard facilities. Something is seriously wrong with this formula.
3. Tax abatements hurt the day-to-day general fund budget. This causes our residents to have to bear more of the burden of educating the children of the Green Local Schools.
This causes levies to be a very difficult sell. Our residents feel that the politicians who give the abatements have left our children as sacrifices in the name of jobs and personal gain. You as a politician know the difficulty of passing tax issues.
For years you have left increases in school funding up to local communities. The myriad of laws that prevent school funding increases causes local communities and superintendents to do the “dirty work” of passing school tax issues.
This is a huge problem that hurts the children of the Green Local Schools and makes us all very unhappy.
4. The CAT Tax, although advertised as “hold harmless” to schools, is far from that. The locally generated revenue is shipped to Columbus and re-issued to districts. This money shows no growth for our school and is not guaranteed as an income stream. Again in the name of tax reform and business growth, the system has hurt the children of this school district.
In my four years as Superintendent, I have made cuts to our education program to try to balance our budget. In about a year our district will be out of money, even with the cost-cutting and elimination of educational programs.
The children of this community deserve better. They do not have the same opportunities as students from other districts or other areas of the state. It makes no sense to me that Green Township listed as one of the 50 poorest communities in the state has to suffer because of these inequities in funding formulas.
I am asking you as a Governor, and one from this county, to help this community and deal with these issues. Every day on my way to work, I look at the crumbling primary school. It is a relic of the past — as are the funding formulas for operating money and school facilities.
Ron Lindsey, Superintendent