The Solon school district is nearing a financial cliff, and if nothing changes with the way the district is funded at the state level, 40 teachers each year will lose their job for the next eight years, starting today, said Superintendent Joe Regano.
At a public meeting in the auditorium, the school administration went over the problem the district is facing with phasing out of the tangible personal property tax. Regano said the district stands to lose $10.7 million over the next eight years if nothing is done. That money makes up 18 percent of the district's budget.
"Our hope is that you will understand the problem and then understand that we're asking you to be here because we're telling you we can no longer do it," Regano said. "This is the Robin Hood issue of the '80s and the tangible personal property tax of the 2000s. It has reached a level that means we can no longer subsist on our current funding."
When House Bill 66 was passed in early 2005 to phase out the TPP tax, a promise was made that hard-hit districts would be reimbursed by the state to make up for the loss of TPP dollars. That promise was not upheld after former Gov. Ted Strickland vetoed it in 2009. Now Gov. John Kasich wants to start phasing the money out starting July 1, and any tax that would have normally stayed local will go straight to the state, Regano said.
The district will lose $1.2 million every fiscal year for the next eight years on top of a 2 percent additional funding cut from the state. With the loss of this funding, Treasurer Tim Pickana projects the district will be facing a $20 million deficit by 2015. And a district cannot operate in the red.
To try and help the situation, the district asked the hundreds of people in the audience to write their lawmakers and demand a reversal. Regano, Pickana and school board President Julie Glavin will head to Columbus today to testify before the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education.
"Write and write quickly," Regano said. "We're going to need every person in this room. If you don't do it, you're going to get it done to you. If you're going to stand, now is the time to stand. The premise of not being able to protect local funds will kill communities."
If nothing changes, Regano said parents can expect class sizes to rise, and the district will likely close an elementary building. Also, 40 teachers will lose their job each year.
"This is a really serious thing," Regano said. "They literally no longer listen to us. It has to be the populace. If not, there's no hope."
For more information on this situation, check the Solon Schools website starting today.
Here is a list of the representatives you can write or call to help make a difference. The address is the same for them all:
77 S. High St.
Columbus, OH 43215