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Hundreds of millions in budget cuts to hit all areas of education

Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal

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The education parts of the $775 million in budget cuts Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced will cover everything from line items at school districts, to an across the board cut to the state share of instruction in higher education.

During a press call on Wednesday, Kimberly Murnieks, director of the state’s Office of Budget and Management elaborated on cuts announced Tuesday by DeWine, including the $210 million cut from Medicaid and $300 million in reductions to district foundation funding for fiscal year 2020.

Murnieks said $55 million in more specific line-item cuts to the Ohio Department of Education are still being discussed by the agency and districts, but the overall foundation funding cuts were spelled out Tuesday.

“Doing a cut to K through 12 education is not something the governor and I approached lightly,” Murnieks said.

She said the funding cuts were implemented through an “equalized per-pupil approach,” meaning those with higher property wealth capacity would see a higher reduction because the state deemed them able to adjust to those reductions.

“We tried to implement a formula for the reductions that would be the most effective and implementable,” the director said.

Highland Local School District in Medina County will see the highest reduction as a percentage of their operating expenditures, with a 2.83% drop, according to OBM documents. Among the other highest percentage reductions, Canfield’s school district will see 2.58% of their operating expenditures lost with the cuts, Delphos City School District in Allen County will see a 2.57% reduction, St. Clairsville-Richland City Schools in Belmont County is looking at a 2.55% reduction and Buckeye Valley School District at 2.5% reduction.

Some of those getting hit the least, are Kelleys Island Local School District at 0.26% reduction of the foundation funding, Trimble Local School District with a cut of 0.57% and East Cleveland City Schools with 0.60% reduction.

Murnieks gave some examples of the line-item cuts K-12 will see, including a $5 million cut from student assessment. This cut is covered, however, by the fact that the school districts did not hold state testing in the last school year.

EdChoice won’t go untouched in the cuts, but the $5.7 million cut will come from unused scholarships and will not affect accepted and currently used vouchers, the director said.

Higher education saw their state share of instruction reduced by 3.8% across the board for $76 million of the $110 million planned cut.

For Ohio State University, that means a cut of nearly $15 million. The University of Cincinnati’s share will dip more than $8 million and Ohio University will see a more than $6 million drop. Smaller schools will also see six-digit reductions, such as Belmont Technical College’s loss of nearly $170,000 and Central State University’s $136,000.

Line-item cuts will also impact colleges and universities, Murnieks said, like scholarship funds. But she said scholarships already awarded would not be affected.

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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