Governor Talks Schools and Slots

Local News

Governor Strickland brought his key education person Dr. John Sanford to the West Muskingum High School library. He met with a room full of educators and superintendents, where he discussed talked about his new state education plan and what it means to local schools.

“That’s what we’ve done in this budget. I think it’s transformative. I think it will strengthen education in Ohio. It’ll make our schools stronger and better. Give our kids more opportunity and that’s the future of our state,” says Strickland.

The new state budget will cut state aid to schools by a quarter of a percent, but with federal stimulus dollars schools will actually see a 5.5 percent increase in funding.

Zanesville City Schools Superintendent Terry Martin asked Strickland, what will happen to school funding in two years when the stimulus dollars are gone?

“Two years from now we’ll have a big problem and we’ll deal with it, but we would have had a big problem right now had it not been for the stimulus resources that we are seeing from the federal government,” he says.

Strickland says they’re hopeful the economy will rebound in two years, but they’re also thinking of back-up funding plans.

Another issue superintendents had with the current school funding- too much reliance on property taxes.

“Property tax means that we have to go back to our voters and we have to ask our voters to pass more taxes just to get the same level of education in our district as other districts in the county,” says Sharon Smith, superintendent West Muskingum Local School District.

Smith says she’s hopeful Strickland’s “evidence-based” funding will help the school with their financial troubles. In the program the state proves through research what it is proven to help a student succeed.

Strickland says although West Muskingum schools won’t immediately see relief through the program, they will when the state assumes more of the financial costs of that education.

“Quite frankly I believe the evidence based model. The provisions we have put in our budget will not immediately, but will over time, benefit a district like this. As the state assumes a greater share of the total cost for operating this school,” he says.

We also asked Governor Strickland about his executive order to place slot machines at Ohio’s seven racetracks.

The governor says he felt the $933 million estimated revenus from the slot machines was necessary to help close Ohio’s budget shortfall.

“I felt like there were two options available to me. Either to implement the slots programs at the seven racetracks or ask for a tax increase and in my judgement in this recession people are unable to pay additional taxes in order to support the activities of our state,” he says.

Strickland says even if the revenue falls short of the $933 million estimate he will not expand slot machines anywhere else in Ohio.