Delaware City Schools will have 200 more students than originally projected this school year, but Superintendent Paul Craft says the district won’t see a penny for those additional students.
The lack of funding comes from the state’s funding gain cap on student growth funding, Craft said. Craft explained that the state will fund a district per student but, if the district grows quickly and gets more students than the formula will pay for, it will get no money for the students over the cap.
“Our pupil spending is around $8,100 per kid,” Craft said, noting that it is among the lowest in Ohio. “If you add 200 new students, you should see around $2 million in new costs for those students. We have literally gained hundreds of thousands in costs and no new funding appears because of the gain cap that’s been applied to districts like ours.”
Craft said this wouldn’t be a problem if the state funding model didn’t have gain caps and the district could be funded per student. Craft reported that, with the gain caps in place, the district is only receiving 65 percent of the funding it should get. Craft said this equates to about $7,307,852 in lost income.
Craft said the problem is even worse for Olentangy Local Schools, which instructs three times the number of students as Delaware but is also limited by the same caps. Craft reported that Olentangy is losing out on more than $34 million in state funding because the caps only give the district 25 percent of the per-pupil funding they should be getting.
Craft said this funding model is not sustainable and by fiscal 2019 the district will be facing a $4.6 million deficit. The deficit balloons to $11.3 million in fiscal 2020.
“We’ve got to get the legislature to respond,” Craft said. “Absent that, we are going to have to talk to our taxpayers again but we don’t want to do that. That’s our last resort. The only other thing we can do is cut.”
Craft said these cuts would at first manifest themselves as $523 less per student and would mean less staff and bigger class sizes.
“I feel like we are doing so many amazing things but that state funding isn’t coming through,” Craft said.
Craft said he will be speaking to all of the staff members throughout the district Tuesday at the district’s convocation. Craft said he has invited State Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, and State Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander, to the convocation to hear an update from the district about its educational achievements and challenges, including state funding caps.
School starts for students on Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.