State vs local: Who pays for Cleveland's schools?
Who pays for Cleveland students’ education? And who’s paying a greater portion of their education?
The chart below shows that the State of Ohio has contributed far and away the most to Cleveland students’ education. Over the past ten years, Cleveland Municipal School District has received somewhere between one-half and three-fourths of its revenue from the state. In fact, the share of state contributions grew unabated from 2002 to 2009: from 53 percent in 2002 up to 72 percent in 2009. In the past two fiscal years, the share of state contributions fell slightly off its ten-year high, so that in 2011 the state contributed 65 percent of the district’s total revenue.
Source: Ohio Auditor of State, Cleveland Municipal School District 2011 Comprehensive Financial Annual Report (see SR-10 & 11). Note: Calculations do not include miscellaneous income, donations, fees, and investment income (combined, they comprise less than 5 percent of the district’s revenue).
Ex-state congressman Stephen Dyer laments on his blog this week that the state of Ohio has not provided sufficient-enough funding for the students of Cleveland. He writes:
The reason I harp on state money, not total money, Terry (and fellow critics) is because it's the state, not the local residents, which bears the Constitutional duty to fund education. Our local taxpayers have been overly responsible for this cost for too long.
Unless Mr. Dyer proposes an entirely-state-funded public education system (possible but unrealistic), it seems that in the case of Cleveland, the state kicks in a fair and, overall, increasing share of revenue. Cleveland’s fiscal problem isn’t, therefore, the state of Ohio. Rather, Cleveland Municipal’s problem is that it’s located in a city with a rapidly declining inner-core, both economically and demographically, and that the district has failed to adjust its operations to meet these new conditions.
 Not all Ohio districts receive a majority of revenue from state sources. For example, Westerville, a suburban district that Mr. Dyer refers to, receives 28 percent of its total revenue from the state. Whether wealthier, suburban districts should receive a greater share of its revenue from the state—and less from local property tax—is also questionable.
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May 8, 2013