State budget could put Ohio schools in a pinch in terms of funding

Posted at 4:24 PM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 16:28:21-04

Resources for some of the most vulnerable students in Northeast Ohio are now at risk.

As state lawmakers continue to hash out a budget for the next two years, a key piece of funding has been slashed. 

Right now, school districts are facing some serious cuts if it's not restored.

Lakewood City Schools could see its budget shrink by more than $590,000. It's money that's currently used to help students who desperately need an extra boost. 

The district serves more than 400 students who are known as English language learners. 

"The supports for students that are English language learners are hugely important because we have students who come to us speaking no English," said Christine Palumbo of Lakewood City Schools.

While the overall population in Lakewood schools has dwindled, the number of ELL students has increased, along with the need for staffing.
"Either in the form of a tutor or a teacher at every single one of our schools, so seven elementaries, two middle schools and one high school," said Palumbo.
Now concerns about maintaining resources for ELL and students with disabilities are growing with potential cuts in state funding on the horizon. 

"It puts all students at risk. Again, because of the population growing in Lakewood, the ELL or special-education, it's more of a burden to the district to try to spread those resources over all of the students," said Kent Zeman of Lakewood City Schools.

To make matters worse for Lakewood, the district anticipated a reduction in the transitional aid guarantee but didn't expect it in one swoop.

"The district will see a $600,000 cut in year one, versus being spread over the next four years," said Zeman.

It leaves Lakewood and many other districts scrambling to figure out how they're going to move forward. 

"The services we need to provide our students doesn't decline," said Zeman.

One way Lakewood might try to save money with cutting staffing and programs is through attrition. 

The State Senate currently has the budget and it will need to be voted on and approved by June 30.