Piqua Board of Education discusses funding

By Aimee Hancock - Miami Valley Sunday News

PIQUA — The Piqua Board of Education heard information regarding the recently-released state budget, and what it means for the district, during the its regular meeting on Thursday.

Treasurer Jeremie Hittle began by saying that all schools in the state have been put on a “funding freeze” for two years.

“Whatever (the school) earned in fiscal year 2019, they’ll get in FY (fiscal year) 2020, as well as FY 2021,” he said.

In 2019, the school was given around $18 million, which is the amount it will continue to receive for the next two fiscal years under the state budget.

Hittle notethis amount of funding is less than what the district should have received for FY 2019, according to the state funding formula in place.

“We were still at the cap (in 2019), so we didn’t get paid what the formula said we should have gotten paid. Then our funds were frozen on that lower amount for the next two years,” he said.

This “cap” is referring to a limit imposed by the Ohio General Assembly with regard to the amount of money a district can receive from the state each year, regardless of the amount dictated by the pure funding formula.

In general, a state school-funding formula is used to distribute money to districts throughout the state in a way that allows all students to receive equal access to a quality education, however, many growing school districts throughout the state do not receive the amount of funding prescribed by the formula due to these caps.

The funding allotted to the Piqua City School District for the next two years, Hittle said, does not take into account any increases in expenditures the district had scheduled prior to release of the new budget. For instance, staff throughout the district will a receive 2 percent pay raise, as outlined within previously agreed upon contracts.

This $18 million also goes toward all other district expenses, aside from wraparound services, including health insurance — which is set to increase, as well, Hittle said — special education services, maintenance, utility bills, office and instructional supplies, classroom furniture and other capital needs, computer updates and upkeep, Education Service Center programming, salaries, benefits, and transportation, among other things.

Hittle noted there is some new additional money that will be received from the state, however, the money is to be used only for “student wellness and success funds,” or wraparound services. The total amount to be received for these services will be around $850,000 for the first year of the two-year budget, Hittle said, and closer to $1 million for the second year.

“It’s very prescribed as to what it has to be spent on,” he said. “We do have some help for wraparound services, but as far as the budget goes, there’s no help to pay bills.”

Hittle said this additional funding is required to be spent within the following areas:

• Mental health services

• Services for homeless

• Services for child welfare-involved youth

• Community liaisons

• Physical healthcare services

• Mentoring programs

• Family engagement

• City Connects programming

• Professional development regarding trauma-informed care

• Professional development regarding cultural confidence

• Student services provided prior to or after the school day, or anytime school is not in session

Hittle said that, currently, the district does not provide $850,000 worth of wraparound services, but noted the funding does not need to be spent immediately, and may be used over a period of time to be determined by the district.

Hittle said meetings will be held in the near future with members of the superintendent’s cabinet and the rest of the administrative team to discuss wraparound services and determine how and where this new funding will be utilized.

Hittle noted the difficulty in planning for these services lies in the fact that this wraparound service funding is not static indefinitely.

“We’ll have to look internally at what we already offer, then look externally at what we could begin to offer and determine if we could continue to offer these new services if the funding was taken away,” Hittle said.

He said no funding from the recently-released state budget will be received by the district until mid- to late-October.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the tuition rate for the PCS District for the 2019-2020 school year in the amount of $5,564.46, which mainly refers to out-of-state enrollment.

• Heard introductions from 24 new staff members, including educators in various subjects throughout the district.

• Approved the established bus routes and bus stops for the 2019-2020 school year.

• Approved the overnight field trip for the Piqua Junior High School eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip for the 2019-2020 school year.

• Approved the hiring and resignation of several staff members.

• Approved a resolution to authorize the sale of property, owned by the district, which includes a .67-acre lot on Ellerman Street, a .313-acre lot on Grant Street, and a .51-acre lot on Ford Drive.

• Entered executive session for the purpose of appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of employee, student and/or school official, with no action taken.

The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m., at the Board of Education Office, located at 215 Looney Road, Piqua.

By Aimee Hancock

Miami Valley Sunday News

Reach the writer at ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Sunday News, all rights reserved.

Reach the writer at ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Sunday News, all rights reserved.