May 10, 2017
Chairman Hite, Vice Chair Sykes, and Members of the Ohio Senate Finance Committee, Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, thank you for reading my testimony and for listening to the testimonies of my dedicated and knowledgeable colleagues. An education that prepares every student for success in 2017 and beyond (incoming Kindergarteners are the Class of 2030) has never been more important. Future Ohioans and Americans who are positive contributors to a growing economy and are good citizens are key to our future regardless of whether they live in Avon Lake, Ohio or anywhere in the U.S.A.
For the past 12 years, I have been the Superintendent of Avon Lake City Schools. I started my career as a Superintendent in Southeast Ohio at Belpre City and Warren Local School Districts. Before becoming a Superintendent I was a Principal for 10 years in Texas and taught for 11 years in Texas and Illinois. My experience has taught me, first and foremost, that kids are kids (young men & women) and that their needs to be successful differ very little, regardless of where they live. Secondly, my experience has taught me that student success is directly related to a school or school district’s ability to supply a consistent, secure learning environment for the entirety of their Pre-School through 12th grade educational career.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, again, thank you for the opportunity to submit this written testimony today. As a representative of the Avon Lake City School District, the Avon Lake community, and as a parent I would like to respectfully express my dismay that we are again working on a biannual budget for the State of Ohio and that the replacement of funds received by Avon Lake and similar school districts from the State, due to the elimination of the Tangible Personal Property tax at the State level, is still an issue. Arguing about how the State and school districts got to where we are today on school funding is frustrating at best. School districts continuing to lose revenue due to the elimination of the TPP replacement reduces learning opportunities for students and creates a burden on local taxpayers that is unjust.
Avon Lake citizens understand the importance of a world class education and have supported our schools by supporting levies that fund over 85% of the cost of educating a student in ALCSD. The phase out of TPP is just one of the financial burdens that our community must deal with as we battle to continue to offer an education that is second to very few in the state or nation. Below is the TPP loss for ALCSD since 2015:
Please note that Avon Lake City School District is also a “capped” school district and the amount that we “do not” receive in foundation payments is more than we receive.
Avon Lake is also the home of a coal burning power plant that continues to operate at the same capacity it has for years, but has appealed to the BTA to drop the valuation of the plant by almost 90%. We are scheduled to have our appeal heard before the Ohio Supreme Court later this year.
Loss of funds for open enrollment, online schools, and charter schools continue to mount as almost 85% of the payments to the above entities are local dollars.
Avon Lake City Schools is also one of the public school districts that receives less state funding than non-public schools in Ohio (#FairFunding).
All school districts have financial challenges and I am proud of the proactive and collaborative approach that the Avon Lake community and schools have used to handle revenue losses outside of our control. At a cost of just over $10,000 per student, it is obvious that the Avon Lake School Board is financially prudent. Our community passed a $6,500,000 per year emergency levy in 2013 that merely “backfilled” lost revenue to that point (not new money). Going forward our community should not have to contemplate additional taxes due to a lack of continued State funding or support including the phase out of TPP.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committees, thank you for your time and energy as you consider the TPP phase out/replacement issue. Avon Lake High School was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 13th top High School in the State in preparing students for college and is ranked #351 in the country. Also, our STEM ranking was #165 in the nation, but we see ourselves as a STEAM school district that believes in educating the whole child as the ranking as a top music community in the nation for 10 consecutive years shows.
Avon Lake City School District is a school district that all of Ohio can be proud of both inside and outside the classroom. I appreciate the opportunity to write about this issue and I am happy to address any questions that you might have about Avon Lake and how we will be impacted by the TPP phase out or school funding.