Friday, August 27, 2004

School district bills Taft
to stress funding problems

The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD - The treasurer of the Northeastern Local School District is sending a bill for $4.4 million to Gov. Bob Taft.

Dee Dee Schneider said the bill being mailed Thursday represents the difference between the state average per-pupil spending and what the district actually spends.

The invoice is Northeastern's way of calling attention to what officials consider to be an unconstitutional system of school funding.

Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said the governor understands the district's frustration.

"But unlike most of state government, school districts received an increase in the last budget, but not as much of an increase as in the past," Holubec said.

He said Taft is awaiting recommendations from the state's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Financing Student Success, formed to come up with ways to improve the school funding system.

School Superintendent Rick Broderick said the district on the edge of Springfield spends $1,300 less per student than the state average of $8,441 because it is frugal and good at containing costs.

If the district had that $1,300 difference for every student, it could afford to reduce class sizes, raise teacher pay and offer additional courses that aren't affordable right now, he said.

"Realistically, we don't suppose we'll get a check for this any time soon," Broderick said.

"The point is to raise the awareness that the state has to do something differently to fund schools."

Leonard Kadel, school board president, said he hopes other districts follow suit.

In April, Tiffin schools sent Taft an invoice to cover the cost of a $1.2 million budget cut after failing to get a new levy passed.

The superintendent said the money was required because of the Ohio Supreme Court's rulings that the school funding system was unconstitutional.

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