West Branch plans funding info meetings

BELOIT – The West Branch school board and administration are hosting a series of informational meetings about the effects the new Ohio School Funding Formula recently proposed by the Kasich Administration will have on the district.

Meetings are being held at all four buildings in the West Branch system and are all open to the public. Upcoming meetings include 6 p.m. Tuesday in the high school cafeteria; 7 p.m. Thursday in the middle school cafetorium; and 7 p.m. March 26 in the Damascus Elementary cafeteria. A meeting was already held at Knox Elementary School Thursday night.

School Treasurer Dan Telzrow will present information that explains how the governor’s school funding proposal will impact the district. A question-and-answer session facilitated by schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart will follow the brief presentation.

The meetings are being held at the request of the school board after Telzrow reported at the board meeting earlier this month that the governor’s proposal could possibly decrease the district’s projected bottom line more than $242,000 in fiscal year 2015 to a deficit of $1.2 million. The district could also receive $178 less per student than in 2009, the last year of a true working funding formula, he added.

Telzrow said at the time that the funding drop can be attributed to a greater percentage of districts receiving money from funds reserved for certain types of districts, such as those in poorer areas. The proposed funding plan also eliminates guaranteed funding, which makes up 20 percent of West Branch’s total per student funding, he said.

According to Weingart, the board and administration are seeking to show community members and parents firsthand how the current proposal will affect the district, acknowledging that the budget has not yet been approved by either the Ohio Congress or Senate, and therefore is subject to change.

“The proposal does not look as though it favors the West Branch district,” he said. “If it holds true, we’re certainly looking at the possibility of going to the voters for a levy. It’s something we haven’t had to do for over a decade, but something that will have to be considered.”

Telzrow will make a report on the issue at each board meeting until the proposal is adopted.