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Rural Ohio Districts to Miss Out Under Funding Proposal

Rural school districts in Ohio are poised to lose out on new school funds from the state under an education funding plan proposed by Gov. John Kasich, according to an article by The Columbus Dispatch.

The proposal would provide more state aid to school districts that are unable to raise local revenue, with 74 percent of new state funds for education going to urban districts. Rural districts would receive little to no new money, and some would lose funds. In 2017, poor rural districts are slated to receive $9,321 per pupil under the proposal, about $1,900 less than wealthy suburban districts would receive from the state.

"It is the job of the state to fund public education, and they are taking and putting that more and more on the local districts," said Doug Roberts, superintendent of the Hardin Northern Local school district, to The Dispatch. "But they are not decreasing the unfunded mandates like the (student) testing we are going through now and school bus and transportation costs that are especially (high) for rural districts," Roberts added.

Supporters of Kasich's proposal argue that farmland values are rising and creating more tax revenue for rural districts, while some urban and suburban districts have seen stagnant or decreasing property values.

Statewide, nearly 32 percent of schools in Ohio are rural and 27 percent of students attend these schools. The state currently ranks 19th in the amount of state revenue provided to schools per local dollar, according to the Rural School and Community Trust.

Although rural students in Ohio perform relatively well on national, standardized exams and have low mobility rates, rural children in the state are facing increasing challenges. A 2014 report found that while the state's child poverty rate grew 75 percent between 2002 and 2013, the child poverty rate grew by 92 percent in rural, non-Appalachian parts of the state. Children in rural Ohio also face more health ailments than their urban peers, possibly due to food insecurity and a lack of access to medical clinics and community resources like gyms. 

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