ESC continues to see funding loss

LISBON – While the county schools have continued to receive benefits from the Columbiana County Educational Service Center, board members at the ESC heard a presentation recently about the loss of state funding in recent years.

In the past three years state funding has decreased $106,054 and has decreased 32 percent since 2007.

Additionally, although Ohio legislation sets the state funding rate the ESC should receive at $37 per pupil it serves, the actual amount has dropped from $33 per pupil in 2010 to only $26 per pupil this school year.

The county ESC now receives less than 12 percent of its budget from state funding.

Superintendent Anne Marie Vaughn said the money also follows the students, so when students leave the county schools or schools decide to contract with another ESC for services, the costs for programs and other services increase for the remaining schools. Likewise, by reducing the cost of a program or adding students being served, the cost is more spread out between the schools.

The report came after Beaver Local recently voted to cut ties with the ESC in 2013-14.

The ESC is currently spending $88 per school-age student served as compared $90.50 per student during the 2010-11 school year. With the increased participation in ESC preschools following a joining of services with the Columbiana County Board of Development Disability, the ESC is spending $36 per pupil this year, compared to $47 per pupil in 2010-11.

The alternative costs have also decreased from $84.50 per pupil in 2010-11 to $62 per pupil this year. Gifted education is down from $6,773 to $5,407.

Vaughn also said a study done by the ESC during the 2010-11 school year showed in a comparison of costs in service category, the Columbiana County ESC was the lowest or next to lowest in every category, but the quality is still exceptional.

Additionally, Vaughn said the larger the group, the easier it is to provide services. Schools which only need assistance for a few students can share the cost of a full-time person with another school.

She pointed out more grant money is being given to consortiums, where the grant money and the programs can benefit more children than just one small school district.

For instance the Seniors to Sophomores program came from three grants in a consortium, which she reported many students from several schools benefit from.

Vaughn reported those participating in the program in this county have a higher retention rate between their first year and their second year than those students from the county who do not participate – 80 percent compared to only 45 percent.

Of the county students participating in Seniors to Sophomores 17 percent have also graduated from college in three years, saving themselves a year’s tuition.

Treasurer Cynthia Lengyel said since 2010 district contracts have increased $120,842 in total. However, there has also been $395,882 credited back to county school districts during the same time.

Following the presentation by both Vaughn and Lengyel, who provided many of the numbers, President Richard Stoudt pointed out sharing services is the new standard, just as doing more with less used to be the mantra.

“We need some help from the state,” Stoudt said. “We need to do a better job communicating with our elected officials.”