We published a few articles about House Bill 136 (commonly referred to as the School Voucher Bill) over the past few months, but nothing since the end of September when the bill was passed by the House Education Committee.  At that time, we published data that detailed the effects of the implementation of HB 136 on every school district in Ohio.  That list was eye-opening to many people across the state because of the negative effects it highlighted. That list, it seems, was also wrong.

House Bill 136 is more damaging than we initially calculated.

In our previous analysis, we calculated the financial impact of a voucher to be a deduction of the amount of tuition that the student would receive based on their family income.  Thus, if a student was only receiving a voucher amount of $3,470 (estimated for Olentangy Local Schools) then we calculated that the school district would have only $3,470 deducted from its funding and rerouted to the private school.

In hindsight we never should have been thinking so logically about a Republican-backed bill.

Shortly after that post, we obtained the updated legislation and analysis by the Legislative Service Commission. (We consciously spent our time on Issue 2 since the bill doesn’t yet have the votes to get introduced on the House floor).  The LSC analysis explains how the penalty to the public school district is greater than we had estimated while being less beneficial to the voucher-funded students.

The base amount for a PACT scholarship for the 2012-2013 school year is $5,703.90.  Students receive only a percentage of the base amount, depending on the family’s federal adjusted gross income for the preceding tax year, as follows:

PACT students must be counted in the enrollments of their resident school districts for purposes of school funding, and then those students’ scholarships must be deducted from their school districts’ state payments.  However, unlike Ed Choice, the full base amount for each PACT student is deducted from the student’s resident district, rather than just the student’s scholarship amount.  The bill states that the extra amount, after paying the student’s scholarship and education savings deposit, if any, is retained by the state.

To clarify, that means that the amount of tuition a student will receive through the HB 136 PACT voucher program is between $2,282 and $4,563.  The student’s home school district, however, will ALWAYS be hit with a $5703.90 deduction in funding for each student awarded a voucher.  The remaining amount, a minimum of $1,140.90, will then be “retained by the state” instead of being returned to the district.

This is merely one more backhanded attempt by the legislature is using to try and de-fund public schools in Ohio.

A quick bit of information:  The number of PACT “scholarships” is limited to the number of unused EdChoice Scholarships in Ohio.  For 2011-2012, approximately 13,000 scholarships went unused.  Conveniently, Kasich’s budget increased the number of EdChoice scholarships to 60,000 next year, allowing about 43,000 PACT “scholarships” to be available.

Armed with that knowledge, consider the following scenario:

43,000 PACT scholarships are available for 2012-2013.  If 43,000 students apply for these scholarships, and if they all qualify for the maximum amount of tuition, that will result in the state writing checks to those families equal $196,209,000.00 in total.  Certainly a large sum, but far short of the $245,267,700.00 that will be deducted from school districts’ accounts.

If school districts are losing $245 million, but students/private schools are only receiving $196 million, where is the missing $50 million?

“Retained by the state.”

And know that this isn’t a one-time deal, this is a process that will be repeated annually.  Each year, public school districts all over Ohio will suffer another $50 million loss in state funding.

Aren’t you also left wondering why the $764 million in budget cuts over the next two years wasn’t enough for them?

 

 

Below, we have updated the spreadsheet to reflect this significant change, adding a column to show the net loss to an individual school district for each voucher issued. Overall 533 of the 612 school districts will suffer a net loss in state funding as a result of this bill.  The districts will have to make up that loss in some way, essentially meaning that our LOCAL tax dollars will be replacing money taken to fund private schools.  You know that levy you just passed?  That Catholic school on the corner thanks you.

Origin of Numerical Data:

The original spreadsheet retains its format as I downloaded it from the Ohio Department of Education and is the FY2012 BRIDGE FUNDING REPORT. I obtained the publicly available spreadsheet from the ODE website.

The median federal AGI amounts (as dictated in HB136) are from the Ohio Department of Taxation for the tax year 2009, the most recent numbers available, and the spreadsheet of the “Income Tax – By School District” figures are publicly available on their website.

The adjusted student enrollment counts were calculated by using the open enrollment and community school figures for each district for September 2, 2011, available by researching each district individually through the ODE website.

 

You can download the full Excel file here: HB136 Analysis of Effect on Public School Funding

A reference guide for understanding the columns in the spreadsheet is available in pdf format: Guide to Using the HB136 Data file

In the version below, we have consolidated the columns displayed so that the information is at least somewhat visible.  The downloadable file at the above link includes the complete data set. (Click the plus sign at the bottom of the window to zoom in.)

 

 

 

 

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