Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools
An Advocate For Ohio's Rural Appalachian School Children
For Over Two Decades
The Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools, in partnership with the Ohio University College of Education, is an organization composed of 136 school districts, institutions of higher learning and other educational agencies in the 35-county region of Ohio designated as Appalachia. School districts in neighboring counties, institutions of higher education and related organizations may become members of the Coalition. The Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools is under the governance structure of a Regional Council of Governments and is funded through membership dues and support from the Ohio University College of Education.
Established in 1988
In Partnership with the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education and Human Services, Ohio University
The Coalition's Mission and Goals
The mission of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools is to advocate for and support the public schools of Appalachia Ohio in the continuous improvement of educational opportunities available to all the region's children. This statement of mission acknowledges that the region's public schools are an integral part of the public education system for Ohio and that the Coalition may support and join with similar efforts throughout the State to improve the educational opportunities for all children.
1. To seek equity in Ohio's system of school funding and adequacy of educational opportunity for all of Ohio's children.
2. To support the continuous development of educational leadership throughout the region’s public school systems.
3. To identify and analyze policy issues that impact the effectiveness, strength, and character of the public school system and to formulate and communicate position statements in response to these issues.
4. To sponsor and promote the use of research and to share successful practices for improving educational opportunities for all children in the CORAS region.
School Groups Say Lack of Resources Affects How Students Perform
Schools' state report cards almost perfectly match the levels of poverty in their communities, a new report from three school groups finds, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Do Ohio’s new report cards accurately grade the quality of a public school education or do they simply reflect the socioeconomic status of students’ families and neighborhoods?
A study released Monday links the latest state report cards, which grade schools and districts, with the levels of poverty in their communities.
It’s nearly a perfect match.
Almost all districts serving high-poverty communities in urban and rural areas received low grades on at least one of the most important report card measures, while upper-middle- and high-income districts had top grades. Some legislators say it’s not surprising, but it is frustrating.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Republican from Kettering who chairs Ohio’s Senate Education Committee. “What we’re seeing with this report card is we’re spending an awful lot of money (on education) and not getting the results we need to get.”
In Greater Cincinnati, districts with straight A’s in three of the most important measures on the report cards also had the highest average incomes in the region: Wyoming, Indian Hill, Mason, Sycamore and Mariemont.
The average adjusted income in Indian Hill in 2011 was $278,000; in Mason, it was $93,110, according to the study. All but Sycamore had single-digit poverty rates. Sycamore, with an average income of $125,820 that year, still managed to have a poverty rate of 16.7 percent.
By contrast, districts with 70 percent or higher poverty got F’s on at least one of the three most important report card measures. They include Cincinnati, Mount Healthy, North College Hill, Lockland, New Miami, Middletown, St. Bernard-Elmwood Place and Hamilton City Schools. Most of their community incomes averaged in the $30,000 to $36,000 range except Cincinnati, where the average was $51,813.
Educators in low-income schools say state report cards don’t reflect the greater numbers and types of challenges high-poverty districts face. Public education is supposed to be an equalizer, they say, a chance for students to overcome their family’s or community’s financial limits.
CORAS Calls Budget 'Worst for Poor Districts in Decades'
The Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools (CORAS) called the state budget, HB59 (Amstutz), recently signed into law "the worst budget for poor districts in decades" in news release on Wednesday.
Tom Perkins, CORAS President and Northern Local School District superintendent, said children in poor and rural districts in Ohio are being left behind while local property owners will be asked to approve more and more levies to keep their school doors open.
“In Northern Local, we cut 32 staff positions in the past three years. Our costs are rising at the same time state funding is drying up. We aren’t alone. The poorest districts in the state are among those hardest hit by this new funding formula,” Perkins said. "Northern Local has been rated Excellent with Distinction for the past three years. The state is making it more and more difficult to maintain our excellent programs for our students."
Lori Snyder-Lowe, past CORAS president and Morgan County Schools superintendent, said the state budget is a move in the wrong direction.
“Under this budget, students in rural and Appalachia Ohio are attending schools that are going to depend even more on local property values and local levies for funding," Snyder-Lowe said. "An overdependence on property taxes was the underlying problem that led the Ohio Supreme Court in 1997 to rule the way the state pays for schools in Ohio in inequitable and unconstitutional.”
Morgan Local Schools has been rated an Excellent School District for two straight years.
Paul Shaw, Logan-Hocking School District treasurer, said his district will receive no per pupil increase from the state in the 2013-14 school year and $20.85 per pupil more the following school year when the state sends the district $81,796.
Logan-Hocking has been rated an Excellent School District for the past three years.
“State lawmakers ignored our numerous testimonies, ignored the documented success stories of our struggling public schools in rural and Appalachia, including Logan-Hocking, and instead rewarded charter schools like Cleveland’s Invictus High School that is in Academic Emergency by giving them one of the largest increases in per pupil funding,” Shaw said.
“Our local communities should be outraged as state tax dollars are redirected to failing charter schools at the expense of our local public schools that are the backbone of our democracy,” Shaw said. “Logan-Hocking has no other choice. We will now begin to dismantle our successful education programs. We pray for guidance as we make the tough decisions ahead.”
Mark Murphy, Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools superintendent, said he is frustrated with "the continued debacle" over state funding. Tuscarawas Valley has been rated Excellent with Distinction, yet is receiving $200,000 less in state aid than five years ago.
“We have done everything possible to live within our means over the past eight years. We have cut 24 positions, closed a school, and restructured our foods services and transportation system,” Murphy said. “Still, it is not enough. We can’t seem to make enough cuts to offset the revenues lost from the state."
CORAS Executive Director Richard Murray expressed disappointment that “state lawmakers ignored data, on the ground information and real funding concerns provided to Ohio’s lawmakers by personal testimony from experienced school superintendents and other educators.”
“We are still reviewing the data, but our preliminary research indicates 54 of Ohio’s high performing/low wealth school districts in southeast Ohio will be flat-funded from the state for the next two years. These districts will receive zero new dollars from the state while poor performing charter schools receive millions in additional aid. That’s not fair to our kids or our communities,” Murray said.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on July 10, 2013. Copyright 2013 Hannah News Service, Inc.