By Susan Hartley
February 25, 2014
To the editor:
In my latest column (PDC Feb. 19), I tried to explain the convoluted and deceitful manner in which the state-funded mandatory public preschool special education programs this year. Since the submission of that article, the folks in Columbus did what they often do. They changed the rules to make themselves look better.
Therefore, some of my explanation, as mind-numbing as it was, is no longer how they have decided to fund preschool programs. So, in the interest of fairness to those I criticize and so as to not provide ammunition to those same folks, many of whom would like nothing more than to accuse me of using false information to criticize them, I want to explain the new rules.
In my article, I referred to a “proration factor” of a little less than 75 percent that the state created that would allow them to live within their own budget. In other words, when they discovered that the equation they devised resulted in spending more money than they had budgeted, they decided to fund districts at 75 percent of the published amount. So, they implemented that “proration factor” that we first found out about for the first funding period that occurred in early February.
But, then, in the second payment of February, which arrived just last week, the folks at the Ohio Department of Education told us that they “discovered data issues with the December compilations which we have now resolved…and the initial funding calculation that was reflected with the first payment in February required proration to stay within the budgeted amount, but the February #2 calculation, following the data correction, does not require any proration and 100 percent of the calculated amount is distributed.” Huh???
In other words, after a little thought they discovered that they could simply re-categorize students into less expensive special education classifications and save money by doing so. By performing this little shell game, they found they would no longer need to prorate their funding to keep from overspending their budget. They could actually say they were funding preschool at 100 percent of the budgeted amount by eliminating this “proration factor.”
Interestingly, the result of this change is that the districts in both Miami and Darke Counties, cumulatively, will receive less money (at 100 percent funding) than they did when they were being funded at 75 percent. You figure that one out.
And, the beat goes on…