Breakdown: How Cleveland public schools are funded

1:39 AM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The Issue 107 ballot issue to levy taxes for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District raises a lot of questions.

Voters are asking why the schools need the money? Why is it so important this time? How are the schools funded in the first place?

So let's break this down bit by bit. 

Where does the funding for the Cleveland public schools come from?

It's a combination of state, federal and local money.

"The greatest amount by far is from the State of Ohio and it's about 68 percent, so we are very state-dependent and one of the highest state-dependent districts in the state of Ohio," explains CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. 

Gordon knows the numbers.

That 68 percent equals about $383 million of the Cleveland schools' budget.

The federal government kicks in too, to the tune of $170 million, or about 25 percent of the budget. 

But state budget cuts chopped $74 million in funding. Plus the poor economy and a lower census count chopped another $84 million federal dollars in the past two years.

That leaves local money to fill in the gaps, so Cleveland residents are being asked to pass the levy.

The problem is that the last property tax levy passed 16 years ago, and that money just isn't keeping up with inflation.


So what about other sources, like the lottery or the new casinos?

The lottery makes big money, but profits are spread to all of Ohio's schools. So in reality, the lottery only gives Cleveland schools about 8 percent of their annual budget.

The estimated casino revenue is projected to bring the schools about $21 extra per student per year, starting in January, but recent reports have casino revenue way down and that number is already being lowered.

So it comes down to asking for local money -- an investment that Gordon promises will pay off.

"And so what the levy is going to allow us to do for the first time, not just in my tenure here but in 16 years, is start investing in kids again," Gordon said.

If the levy passes, it will bring in about $65 million a year to the Cleveland schools. That's about 10 percent of the operating budget.


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