Thursday, May 10, 2007

Last Bloggable Bit Catching Up

Everything else, from the vegan couple that will forever be used by grandparents to bully vegetarian mothers to my continued position that my support defaults to Bill Richardson until someone convinces me that it belongs elsewhere (or he earns it beyond default status)... Well it's water under the bridge now.

The last blogged bloggable bit referred to yesterday belongs to election day in the area I have been known to refer to as Wexnerville... New Albany.

I watched with interest as the New Albany Bond Issue failed as about half of school funding-related issues in local districts passed. New Albany-Plain Local has, in recent years, gotten the most bang for the buck in Franklin County. A while back, I analyzed data and concluded that increased per-pupil-revenue was associated with lower performance within the group of lower-performing districts, but associated with higher performance among higher-performing districts. My guess is that the former effect is the result of failed attempts to replicate the latter.

Anyway, NA-PL was a bit of an outlier there, with very high performance, and relatively low PPR for such a high-performing district. Because the district continues to see growth, and because much of that growth is fueled by families with school-aged children, the number of pupils appears to be rising almost as fast as the additional revenue that's being generated. This sort of tension seems bound to have one of two results: Either the District will generate additional revenue from taxpayers, bringing the district in line with similarly high-performing districts, or per-pupil funding will continue to rise at a slower rate than similar districts, and performance will likely decline to something more closely resembling the second tier of Franklin County Districts.

Of course, over-performance could continue, or school-funding reform could change the entire landscape.

The graph below shows how Dublin and New Albany have followed a different trajectory than Bexley, Grandview, Worthington, and UA. Per Pupil funding four these six districts started at a similar level, but Bexley, Grandview, UA, and Worthington have increased PPR at a higher rate than Dublin and NA-PL.

Dublin and New Albany are still experiencing growth, especially compared to the four inside-270 districts (The graph below shows estimated population change from 2000 to 2005. It understates the differences by a great amount, because the bulk of the growth in Dublin and New Albany districts has occurred outside the city/village for which the district is named. The innerbelt suburbs have districts that are much more closely matched to city borders).

Increased population coupled with a decreased willingness of the populace to vote for funding requests is not unique to New Albany, but New Albany has the potential to be a case study.

Oh, and by the way, I intentionally left Hilliard out of any and all discussions here. You'll get much better conversation over at one of Paul's blogs.

1 comment:

Paul said...


Thanks for the referral.

I've been spending quite a bit of time over the past year trying to take in all I can about both the dollars and the politics surrounding school funding. A couple of key points have popped out:

There are three kinds of communities in the state: a) metro areas; b) agricultural; and, c) Appalachian. The metro areas are further divided into the urban core and the suburbs. Of these four types, the suburban areas tend to be the net contributors to the state funding system (more taxes are collected than returned), and the rest are net recipients.

Agricultural areas have inadequate funding from property taxes because farmland is, by policy, taxed at very low rates. The consequence is a bit of a hidden farm subsidy. They get more State dollars and spend less of their own. These folks have a viable local economy and high employment, yet receive this subsidy. We can’t expect this to end in a farm state like Ohio, nor do I advocate that it should.

The Appalachian areas depend on heavy industry for their livelihood. When the coal mines and steel mills are operating, times are good. That hasn’t been true for a while. Unemployment is high and property values suck. There’s no fix for it, and people should move. But they won’t, so we subsidize them too. Maybe with a decent education, the kids will escape (I did).

The metro complex is something else. As a whole, the community is viable, but has been very purposefully segregated economically into the poor urban center surrounded by a wealthy ring of suburbs. Suburbanites need to understand that their high taxes are the price paid for this segregation. Furthermore, those wealthy suburbs are the primary source of the money required to subsidize the agricultural and Appalachian areas as well.

This is why I think any suburban school district is foolish to support the proposed amendment. To give more money to the districts who think they need more, the suburbs will have to be taxed more.

Second Big Truth: 85% of more of the funding in most school districts goes to pay employee salaries and benefits. We’ve gotten ourselves to a place where the teacher’s unions have great power, both as a bargaining force in the district and as a lobby. In our district, the teachers have an automatic 4% annual raise built into their contract. A primary reason districts need more money every year is to cover these automatic increases. They add about $5 million in cost per year in our district.

So this is why the suburban superintendents and the teachers’ unions are so in favor of the proposed amendment, because it will allow their buddies in the State Board of Education to declare each year that “We need more money, the cost of education has gone up!” And it will be duty of the General Assembly to fund it.

Guess what? It’s the duty of the General Assembly to fund the current system, and they don’t. What happens if they don’t fund the proposed system either? Where does the money come from in either case? Right, more taxes. And who pays those taxes? Right, the people in the suburbs.

Maybe we all need to go apply for government jobs. It seems to be the primary growth industry in this country.