When Governor Strickland put together his evidence-based funding model for education he issued a 43-page special analysis.  It was comprehensive and thorough and, whether you agreed with it or not, you at least understood what he was doing and why.

John Kasich, on the other hand, has so far refused to reveal the formula he used for funding education in his budget. School districts currently have no idea why they ended up with huge or less huge cuts in funding but thanks to a thorough analysis of his budget and existing school district information, school districts can now find the exclusive answers right here at Plunderbund!

First a quick overview of how we did the analysis.

We started with school rankings that Kasich proposed in his budget:

Requires ODE, annually, to rank order each school district, community school, and STEM school according to:
(1) performance index score, [achievement test results]
(2) student performance growth from year to year (as measured by either the value-added progress dimension where available or, for grades or subjects for which it is not available, some other indicator designated by the Superintendent of Public Instruction),
(3) career-technical performance measures as required under federal law,
(4) current operating expenditures per pupil, and
(5) percentage of total current operating expenditures spent for classroom instruction.
Requires the Department to issue an annual report for each school district, community school, and STEM school indicating its ranking on each of those five measures.

We then gathered information for each of these measures from the publicly accessible Ohio Department of Education website and put them in a spreadsheet.

The resulting document contains 609 public school districts with rankings (FY09 for all data) for Performance Index Score (PI Score), Value-Added Scores, Overall Per-Pupil Expenditures, and Percentage of Per-Pupil Classroom Expenditures.  Values were assigned from 1-609, with a score of 1 being favorable.  Based on Kasich’s proposals, a rank of 1 was assigned to:

  • Highest Performance Index Score
  • Highest Value-Added Score
  • Lowest Overall Per-Pupil Expenditures
  • Highest Percentage of Per-Pupil Classroom Expenditures
  • CTE measures do not easily equate with these other measures and have been omitted

What makes this data most interesting is the information gained by layering on John Kasich’s published budget for school districts over the next two years.  Overall, 401 of the 609 districts, about two-thirds, will receive an increase in state-level funding based on this budget.  By analyzing these new rankings alongside the budget, we have learned a few things that should help school districts maximize state funding in the future.


1. DO NOT let your students achieve at the highest levels.

The top 5% of districts for Performance Index Score average a 19.8% reduction in state funding.  So while two-thirds overall are receiving an increase, only 8 out of the top 30 schools will see additional funding.

On the other end of that scale is Indian Hill Exempted Village SD who will lose 100% of their state-level funding in the first year of Kasich’s budget.  Yes, Indian Hill is among the wealthiest school districts in Ohio, but it is still quite the negative reward for having the 5th highest PI Score in the state.  Don’t think this deep cut is an anomaly.  The next five largest funding cuts in the top 5% are 76.9%, 68.6%, 61.3%, 53.9%, and 50.1%.

Top 30 Big Gainer: 11th-ranked Russia Local: 5.0% increase
Top 30 Big Loser: 5th-ranked Indian Hill Exempted Village: 100% decrease


2. DO NOT allow students to show significant learning gains (Value-Added).

Because of a tie, the top 30 in this category actually has 35 districts, and 19 of the 35 will receive small increases in funding (impressive, but still lower than the two-thirds number we should expect to see).  However, since the other 16 are taking such severe funding cuts, the top 30 are averaging a 5.6% reduction in state-level funding.  The worst 5% in this category will actually receive the greatest bump, with an average funding increase of 3.2%.

Top 30 Big Gainer: 4th-ranked Fairfield Local: 10.2% increase
Top 30 Big Losers: 5th-ranked Danbury Local: 57.5% decrease; 17th-ranked Indian Hill Exempted Village: 100% decrease


3. Keep overall expenditures in the bottom 85% statewide, but preferably near the middle of the pack.

Among the 519 schools that have the lowest overall expenditure amounts, the state-funding amount shows an average increase of 1.6%.  But if a district’s per-pupil spending puts them in the top 15%, they can expect an average loss of 12.3% of their state funding.  The top 30 districts who spend the most in this category will lose an average of 24%.

A school district that can fall between 20-25% or 35-40% on this scale has the greatest shot at increasing state funding, as these ranges average an increase of 2.9%

Top 30 Big Gainer: 12th-ranked Jonathan Alder Local: 9.2% increase
Top 30 Big Loser: 18th-ranked Anthony Wayne Local: 7.3% decrease


4.  Spend less on Classroom Expenditures to increase state-level funding.  Sort of.

16 out of the 30 schools who commit the largest percentage of funds to the classroom are experiencing a drop in state funding.  Overall, the top 5% in this category will average a cut in funding of 2%.  Grandview Heights, the highest ranked in this category, is actually slated for a cut of 12.6%.

Top 30 Big Gainer: 19th-ranked Urbana City: 6.7% increase
Top 30 Big Loser: 7th-ranked Upper Arlington: 37.4% decrease


Finally, by averaging each district’s ranking using the characteristics publish by the Governor, we arrived at the composite rankings for all 609 districts.  Here are the top ten and their funding changes:

1. North Central Local 2.18%
2. Wayne Local 4.19%
3. Columbiana Ex Vill -1.58%
4. Louisville City 1.62%
5. Avon Local -2.32%
6. Salem City 4.26%
7. Boardman Local -4.72%
8. Jackson Local -14.58%
9. Columbus Grove Local 2.93%
10. Clark-Shawnee Local -2.99%

A 50-50 split of increases and decreases results in an average drop in state funding of 1.1% for these top-ranked districts.  The top 30 are experiencing a minor drop in funding of 0.6%, while 16 (still not two-thirds) will see an increase.

Top 30 Big Gainer: 15th-ranked Versailles Ex Vill: 6.8% increase
Top 30 Big Loser: 28th-ranked North Royalton City: 16.1% decrease


Now let’s explore these numbers John Kasich’s way.  Look at the characteristics of the districts he has identified to receive the largest percentage increase in state funding (Rank out of 609).

School District Funding Increase PI Rank Overall Exp. Rank Classroom Exp Rank Value-Added Rank
1. Pymatuning Valley: 20.59% 417 374 497 292
2. Western Local: 12.98% 547 513 546 171
3. Ada Ex Vill: 12.9% 311 135 94 556
4. Licking Heights: 12.54% 399 81 434 357
5. Zanesville City: 12.31% 585 288 401 543

Not a single one of these five districts has a category ranking in the top tier.  In fact, from Kasich’s funding list, only 17 out of the 244 individual scores fall into the top 10% in their respective categories.

And in the 10% of districts losing the most state funding?

  • 23 are in the top 10% on PI Scores
  • 8 are in the top 10% on Classroom Expenditures, including the aforementioned Grandview Heights.
  • 10 are in the top 10% on Value-Added scores.

In fact, there don’t seem to be any predictable methods to this formula.  Calculating in a district’s level of Poverty to the equation as a fifth category helps, resulting in (finally) two thirds of the top 30 experiencing an increase in funding. But while 20th-ranked Montpelier Exempted Village gains 7.98%, 29th-ranked Jackson Local is losing 14.58%.

Size matters to a certain degree as 9 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 largest school districts in the state will receive more money.  But that list has a giant wart in the form of the 24.4% cut that top 10 district Olentangy Local will be hit with.

The bottom line on this is that John Kasich has submitted a budget proposal that makes bold claims about school reform.  He is scrapping the existing format due to its “lack of results” after only one year of implementation for which data is actually neither good nor bad, but inconclusive.  Kasich has submitted specific details about school evaluation for inclusion into state law and submitted his proposed school district funding changes, yet the two do not match up.

Maybe now we know why Governor Kasich is evading questions about his funding model.


Big Gainer:  None

Big Loser: Ohio