The state of Ohio, like only five other states, funds its school districts in two ways: state support and local levies. This system works for some districts, but doesn’t for others. I happen to live in one of the others. Those of us in the Poland school district provide, via local levies, 78 percent of the funding to operate our schools. The state kicks in the other 22 percent. According to the state, because Poland is home to high property values, high household incomes, and highly educated citizens, we can afford to cover the 78 percent.
On the other hand, the Youngstown City school district receives 14 percent of its funding from the citizens in its district and 86 percent of its funding from the state. This isn’t the fault of Poland or Youngstown. It’s the way the state funds its public school system.
This May, Poland residents will need to ask themselves if they feel they are getting their money’s worth. Can they afford to continue supporting a district that protects their property values; attracts high income earners; populates their community with citizens that place a high priority on education; is one of only 81 of 612 Ohio public school districts to receive the Excellent with Distinction designation from the ODE; ranks below the county, state and national average in per pupil spending; and ranks ninth out of 14 Mahoning County school districts in operating tax millage?
If Poland residents understand and accept the responsibility that the state has presented them, the levies should pass. If this responsibility is too much for the majority to accept, they then have to ask themselves if they prefer a new look for the Poland school district. One with no new textbooks; no new equipment; no new library books; no new school buses; no teacher professional development; no new services and programs; no K-4 music, art, physical education, and guidance; cuts to classroom materials and supplies; and reduced high school electives?
The decision has been left to us. We have the power to choose the kind of school district we want.
The state funding system has dealt us these cards. We can either play or fold.