While a team of legislators led by Republican Ron Amstutz have schedule hearings across the state about school funding, the Kasich administration has his own team meeting in secret to craft his school funding plan.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer shared a key insight into what we can expect from Kasich’s plan: consolidation.

No big surprise, but not exactly what we would call a “funding” solution, but instead more state regulation over school operations. Kasich has long preached about his desire to have local governments consolidate their services in order to fix his budget, and forcing schools to do so to fit his personal philosophy is a logical next step for him to take.  Instead of figuring out a method of funding to improve services for schools, Kasich wants to combine services across districts to cut costs and the quality of the operation.

Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols expresses an opinion the Governor has held even prior to his election, “The money is going to overhead, red tape and bureaucracy instead of instruction. Ohio is one of the worst states in driving dollars to the classroom, and we want to flip that and bring more money into the classroom and less into overhead.

Much easier said than done, especially when the administrations actions are taking us in the opposite direction.  The administration has continued to enact bill after bill that meets the very definition of red tape and bureaucracy, most of which we have written about on Plunderbund — teacher retesting, the third grade retention plan (with its increased student testing), teacher merit pay, a new school ranking system, a new school grading system, and a never-before-tested teacher evaluation system.  In addition, we had significant reforms that were already in the process of being enacted in Ohio, the adoption of the new common core curriculum with new online-only exams and the new Resident Educator program providing for extended mentoring of new teachers.

All of those items require a massive financial commitment by the state for processes that should be clearly considered to be non-classroom expenditures.  They are heavy on new computer equipment (both classroom and district-wide network) and on personnel to create, enact, and oversee the various processes.

And it seems we might have the unlikeliest of allies: House Finance Committee Chair….and leader of the statewide school funding discussions, Ron Amstutz.

Said Amstutz of Kasich’s job-sharing plans:

“I think we will see more of it, but I don’t think it’s a silver bullet and I don’t think it should be mandated,” he said. “Academic success is what is critical and that isn’t as simple as having more resources in the classroom.”

Consider that last sentence from Amstutz again — he certainly seems more thoughtful about the process than does our first-term governor, don’t you think?

Interestingly enough, the Toledo Blade published an article today about term limits that contains some interesting information about why we might be inclined to trust Amstutz over Kasich on this issue.  In a word: experience.  Amstutz’s relevant experience puts Kasich to shame on this issue.

Rep. Ron Amstutz (R., Wooster), chairman of the powerful House Finance and Appropriations Committee, is dean of post-term limits legislating with 32 consecutive years in the General Assembly. He already had 20 years under his belt when the first impact of term limits was felt in 2000. Voters then sent him to the Senate and then back to the House in 2009.

He has been presiding over a series of hearings to educate committee members when it comes to school funding. In this age of term limits, many lawmakers were not here when the Ohio Supreme Court repeatedly held the state’s method of funding K-12 education unconstitutional.

No, we haven’t jumped on the Ron Amstutz bandwagon, but the potential firestorm between the Kasich Administration and the experienced Amstutz’s House Finance Committee should provide for some interesting stories over the next year (Kasich is planning to roll out school funding in his 2013 budget — legislation that will first have to pass through House Finance).

Let us know — what key components would you like to see addressed in the next school funding model?

  • I want to know exactly what’s being done about unfair funding! This has been going on for over twenty years!! It’s ridiculous to even talk about any other “reforms” until the key problem is addressed…just like every other issue, we conveniently create a crisis and scapegoat to avoid dealing with the real problems caused by inequality. Since the inequality itself is primarily contrived, accepting the decades of research that point directly at inequality being the most important indicator of academic success has to be ignored, lest someone figure out the shell game.

  • Edubrat

    Well said LeAnn, well said! I can think of several ways to add dollars to districts which would require bureaucratic shrinkage. As for the formula, it should be fairly simple to calculate but is not. Nice post.

  • This consolidation thing drives me crazy. Reason 1 consolidation makes for larger schools where students know each other less. Thus giving rise to a number for problem for example it is easier to bully to the extreme and it not get noticed in a larger setting, gangs- when in a larger setting you tend not to feel as much a part of many things so a gang to help you feel like you belong becomes a factor.When there is a larger population and you end up not knowing everyone it is easier to not care about the other person and do things to them that you would not do in a smaller setting.
    Reason 2. The larger the school the more chance that many of the teachers will not notice you. The less individualized things get. (Even if the big push is on individualization it does not happen in the larger settings) You are known only if 1 your are super smart-2 in sports 3-a trouble maker.
    Reason 3. Because you know less people personally you do not have older colleagues to look up to as a role model or to point it out and (tattle)or report out when you do the right or wrong things to/for others including adults you care about..When everyone knows everyone it is harder to get away with things you know you should not be doing.
    I came from a small public school. It is still in existence. It was one large building gades K-12. It was a big deal to know the older students. The older students looked out for the little ones. If you did wrong everyone knew and you corrected your wrong. If you did good everyone knew and let you know they were proud. I’m not talking about siblings looking out for each other I am talking about a community of students. It is still the same way today. My 2 nieces( extremely smart nieces) just graduated from that school. It is to bad that they had to tear down the old building to build a new one but it needed done. But our sometimes not so thoughtful people from Columbus said that a High School and Grade school could not be housed in the same building. They said it would not work mixing the older students with the young ones. Gee It has worked since it came into existence in the late 1800’s up until 2010. The best thing was sharing the same lunch room which was a really big room with every one. Going to lunch as a “little kid” you felt so good when an older student said hi or knew your name. And the “big kids” loved saying hi and watching the little ones. Or putting the middle school students back in their place as they would try to act up out of the teachers sight. Oh well I guess it is better to have larger schools where you can be a non entity until you bring you weaponry to school.

  • anastasjoy

    As long as you’re pushing charter schools and vouchers STFU about consolidation and “streamlining.” By having charter shcools AND public schools, you have deconsolidated, splitting up the available pool of money and creating inefficiency. Vouchers take this idea to the Nth degree, using the available money in absolutely the less efficient way by issuing education welfare checks that in essence make each child his own school system. Just button it, Kasich. You are an ideologically driven ass with no grasp of practical realities.

  • Dmoore

    This is a collosal failure to understand the most rudimentary axiom of education: all education is local. Is it efficient? Of course not. But comminities want local control, not John Kasich and his amatuers telling them they get less to say about their school finances and lots of other things. This from a guy who spent most of his work life in the most inefficient organization known to mankind, the U.S. Congress, where he pulled in a comfy salary, guaranteed pension, a lifelong gold card healthcare benefit, and lots of connections that he used to further pad his income. And now he’s telling school districts THEY have to live with less. Good luck with that one, Johnny.

  • Red Rover

    Agree with LeAnn. Make the foundation of the system legal. Everything else should wait. I wish we could put the legislators in prison for contempt of court. That might spur them to action!

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