Ohio’s schools, which are set to lose a collective $66 million next year due to federal budget cuts, got a little good news Monday.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) said Monday it found $19 million in state funds that it will give to districts to soften the blow.
“We believe our schools can and will manage through this,” said Richard Ross, ODE’s superintendent of public instruction. “We think we can mitigate the impact on some of our boys and girls.”
The money comes from unused project grants that grantees never claimed and money that was slated for now-closed charter schools.
Ross couldn’t say Monday how much each school district will get. The $19 million will be divided up by a formula in the next few weeks.
The cash will help districts pay to educate students who are poor or who have disabilities – two of the nine areas of education funding that are being hit by across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as sequestration. The federal cuts total $85 billion nationwide. Ohio is set to lose $66 million from 14 federal education grants that include helping homeless children, funding preschool education and improving teacher quality.
The Ohio Department of Education released details Monday about how sequestration will affect each school district and also announced its help. That came a day after Gov. John Kasich signed Ohio’s budget bill, which spends $6.6 billionnext year and $7 billion the following year to educate the state’s 1.6 million schoolchildren.
More than two-thirds of Ohio school districts got a bump in state funding for next year. That could help some weather sequestration. According to an analysis by CentralOhio.com, 433 of Ohio’s 614 school districts still see a net gain in funding when factoring in state funding gains versus the sequestration cuts in those two largest federal funds.
ODE officials said they’d discussed the sequestration cuts with legislators during the budgeting process, but it is unclear if legislators were aware of the exact numbers – or the fact that the department had an extra $19 million to help school districts.
The bulk of the cuts come from the two biggest grants, Title I and IDEA. The $588 million in Title I grants pay help educate low-income students. That fund is taking a $32 million hit.
The $437 million IDEA B Special Eduction grant pays for extra services to educate special needs students. It’s getting slashed by $23 million next year.
Ross said Monday the ODE will give schools $8 million in Title 1 money and $11 million in IDEA money to offset the costs.
School districts have been planning for federal sequestration for months. The cuts tend to hurt poorer districts more because they usually rely more heavily on federal funding. For example, federal funding constitutes only about 1 percent or $2.1 million of the revenue for Warren County’s Mason City School District. Cincinnati, on the other hand, will receive $31.1 million, in federal funding next year just in those two biggest grants categories.
Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, in that order, will lose the most in special education and poverty grants according to the CentralOhio.com analysis.
Most districts still can’t say exactly how the cuts will play out.
Goshen local schools lost $64,578 in federal funding, mostly from its losses in those two big funds – Title 1 and IDEA. “We are currently evaluating the cuts that we will need to make and how to provide services to the students served under those programs,” said superintendent Darrel Edwards.
Cincinnati Public Schools, which will get about an $8-million bump in the state’s budget next year, took sequestration into account when balancing its budget last month.
Mason Spokeswoman Tracey Carson said she hopes the ODE’s intervention will help offset the cuts, but in general, her district has a more stable financial outlook than it has for a while, thanks to the uptick in revenue from Kasich’s budget.