‘Cap’ on state aid shortchanges central Ohio districts, school officials say

Ohio uses a formula to allocate money to schools based on their needs, taking into account the number of poor students, non-English speakers and special-education students, as well as property values and other criteria.

Based on that formula, Columbus City Schools should be getting about $360 million a year in state financial aid, according to district Treasurer Stan Bahorek. Instead, it gets $275.5 million, about 76 percent of what the formula says, because state lawmakers have “capped” the amount that state aid can increase for any district in a single year.

And because lawmakers haven’t applied the same cap to charter schools, that means Columbus must pass along significantly more money for each charter student than it gets for students who choose to remain in the district. Once Columbus has passed through $136.8 million to charters, nearly $22 million for private-school vouchers and about $2.8 million in other deductions, it gets to keep a little more than $122 million to educate its students.

The charters get more state aid to educate their 18,000 students than Columbus gets to educate its 48,500 students.

“If we were getting the $360 million (that the formula allocates), the numbers would make a little more sense to us,” Bahorek said. “For a school (system) that’s on the cap, this is why it’s so painful.”

(Read more at the Dispatch)