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Gov. Ted Strickland has long campaigned on being a champion of education, even going so far as to inject himself into the landmark school funding decision in Ohio back when he was a congressman.
So it’s no surprise that the Democratic governor is peppering his campaign speeches with references to increasing school funding.
For example, in a July 6, 2010, speech in Columbus, Strickland lamented funding cuts done in several other states before saying "in Ohio, we invested in our children, raising school funding by 5.5 percent in the last budget."
The claim is such a popular theme with Strickland, we decided to look more closely at his assertion.
While it’s true that the total pot of money going to funding primary and secondary schools in Ohio will grow by 5.5 percent during the current two-year state budget that ends in July 2011, it’s not state aid that is responsible for the hike. State aid to schools will actually be lower by about $32 million--from $6.542 billion in 2009 to $6.510 billion in 2011. On a district-by-district level, that means about 60 percent of the more than 600 school districts in Ohio will get less money for operations in the current two-year budget cycle than they did before.
Instead, it’s federal money, including stimulus funding dollars which makes the statewide school funding pie bigger. And a large portion of the federal funding for primary and secondary education must be funneled into very specific programs such as $922 million statewide in combined federal Title I and IDEA funding. Title I money must be spent on things like additional teachers, intervention specialists for low-income students. IDEA funds must be spent on the education of special needs children.
The natural impression left by the governor’s words "we invested in our children, increasing school funding" is that Ohio’s state government took steps to increase the amount it puts toward education. In fact, it was the federal government that has invested more in Ohio’s children. And six out of 10 Ohio schools districts have less money to spend on operations than they did in the previous budget under Strickland.
We find the governor’s claim to be False.
Gov. Ted Strickland, speech, 07-06-2010
Education funding spreadsheet from state budget office.
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