The Delaware City Schools Board of Education approved payments to families who live within the district that send their children to other schools and discussed state funding during its regular meeting Monday night.
During his regular report, Superintendent Paul Craft discussed the district’s fiscal year 2019 funding report from the Department of Education, and the challenges the district faces because of caps on the amount of money it can receive based on growth.
Craft said according to the state’s formula, the district should receive $24,097,996, but it only receives $17,175,100 because it is only allowed to receive 3 percent more funding than the previous year. This is due to gain caps imposed by the state.
“That’s what the formula says a district like ours should receive,” Craft said. “…It means we are losing $6.9 million in formula funding.”
Craft said the caps only apply to how much money a school can gain, but it doesn’t apply to how much money the school is forced to transfer to things like community schools, STEM schools or the Education Service Center.
“So, you can see we are about 71 percent funded this year. About six years ago, we were 69 percent funded, so we’re in good shape. If we keep this trend up for another 86 years, we’ll be fully funded,” Craft joked.
Craft said the state reports allow the district to compare its funding to similarly sized districts. Craft said that the closest districts to Delaware are Findlay City Schools and Lebanon City Schools, which were 102 percent and 106 percent funded, respectively.
Craft said the reason they are being fully funded is because those districts grew in the 1970s and 1980s, and not in the 2000s and 2010s, when the state of Ohio didn’t have a funding formula in place.
“We should get more money than both of those districts, but what we actually get per student is much less,” Craft said.
Craft said Delaware City Schools should receive $4,381 per student, but actually only receives $3,122 per student compared to Findlay’s $4,026 and Lebanon’s $3,840 per student.
In the coming days, Craft said he would be speaking to 40 superintendents around the state, asking them to speak to their state senator and state reps about fixing the formulas.
Craft said if the district had been funded according to the formula in 2015, the district wouldn’t have had to go to voters with a levy for a tax increase.
“If we had been fully funded, (taxpayers) wouldn’t have seen that tax increase,” he said. “There’s really only two things you can do if you’re not funded; screw the kids or hit your taxpayers up for more money… Neither of those are good things.”
Craft said he’s thankful that the the district’s taxpayers have been so supportive.
“Our taxpayers are currently paying more than 100 percent of the state average,” Craft said. “Our taxpayers have done the right thing.”
Craft said he’ll continue to speak to legislators to make sure they address the funding issue.
Additionally, the board will also consider approved payments in lieu of providing transportation to families of students who live in the district but attend school elsewhere. School officials report these payments are typically $250 a student. This applies to students who attended schools such as Grace Community School, Polaris Christian Academy, Village Academy, Genoa Christian Academy and Delaware Christian School.
The payments for the 216 students in question will total $31,000.
During the meeting, the board heard a presentation from Paula Vertikoff, principal at Carlisle Elementary School, who spoke about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at Carlisle. Vertikoff brought a group of Carlisle students with her and had them do engineering activities with members of the board to show off what they’ve learned.
Vertikoff said the STEM lessons encourage students to collaborate, think critically, be creative, and help strengthen their communication.
Delaware City Schools Facilities Manager Jason Sherman also added that the expansion to district’s transportation depot is currently under construction. The $429,722 expansion will add an additional room (training area) and will enclose the wash bay.
The board also approved a number of staffing changes, including the resignations of Jessica Scott, a guidance counselor at Hayes High School; Calia Nicol, a district substitute; and Gina Picetti, a substitute cook/cashier for the district.
The BOE approved the employment of the following individuals: Angela Majka, a cook/cashier at Willis Education Center; Gina Picetti, a cook/cashier at Carlisle Elementary School; Melinda Kaczmarek, a School Aged Child Care program assistant at Dempsey Middle School; Nancy Smudz, a cook/cashier at Dempsey; Lisa Evans, a bus driver; Elizabeth Smith, a bus driver; and Dennis Palmquist, a bus driver.
The next board meeting will be a work session at 6 p.m. on Oct. 22, and it will followed by a regular meeting on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. The meetings will be held in the board room at Willis.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter at @BattishillDG.