On previous posts, we disclosed that 68% of Lake County real estate taxes are spent on our public schools. We have been constantly reminded by school officials and real estate agents that we must mindlessly continue to support our public schools because good schools are vital to our home values. Well, lets put this jigsaw puzzle together and see exactly what the finished product looks like, and try to determine if the statement that “good” public schools are the backbone of the community and our home values.
Let me first explain our ground rules on what “good” means. Back in the day, we used a four point system: an “A” equals 4 points, a “B” equals 3 points, a “C” equals 2 points, a “D” equals 1 point, and a “F” equals 0 points. My parents always reminded me that no one should aspire to be average, so we are considering an “A”, or a “B” as acceptable, and the grades “C”, “D”, and “F” are not acceptable.
Also, I spend over $6,000 annually on our local school system, so I want to see how well they are doing protecting my investment in my home. If a good school is integral to my home value, then it is incumbent on me to be sure that they are spending my “investment” in their school wisely, and producing good results.
The State of Ohio has produced 2016 – 2017 “report cards” for all 607 school districts in the State of Ohio. Here is link to that website:
We spent the time to look up the grades for all 607 school districts. We focused on the grade earned for the “Achievement” component. This component covers the number of students who took the State tests and how well they performed on them.
The second variable that was considered was the revenue received by each school district from local taxes, state, and federal funds. The third factor is the number of students in each school district.
When we compare the number of students, the revenue received and the results of the testing, we should be able to determine if the taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely and are they protecting our home values.
Here is our master record of all 607 school districts sorted by county. It is 13 pages, so there is a lot of detail. You may have to rotate the page to read it.
Here is a summary of the results by county:
2016 – 2017 Summary by County
The statistics for the entire State of Ohio are these:
Total Number of Students: 1,706,925
Total $ Spent By All School Districts: $24,174,148,613 (that’s $24.1 Billion!)
Average $ Spend Per Pupil: $14,162 (Averages can be deceiving, you will see a little later how increased spending does not necessarily result in better performance)
How well did they do on the Achievement component of the State testing?
The average grade for all 607 schools is a paltry 1.55 – that is a “D”……we spent $24.1 Billion and cannot even get our schools to attain an average “C” grade!!!
There are some high achieving schools. Here is a summary of the schools sorted by the grade average earned.
Analysis of School Districts by Grade
Please note that only 2.1% of the school districts an a “A”, while 8.6% earned a “B”. So we can say that 10.7% of our state schools performed well. That accounted for ~178,000 students, and $2.3 Billion. The average spend per pupil was $14,127 for the “A” schools and $12,679 for those that earned a “B”.
Let’s take a look at the other end of the grading scale. Which schools with ~ 252,000 students received an “F” on the “Achievement” component, and how much did we spend on them?
School Districts with F grade
It is interesting that their average spend per pupil was $19,856, for a total of ~$5 Billion (that is right- Billion) of taxpayers’ money. That is an average spend per pupil of $5,728 (40.5%) more than was spent by the school districts that received an “A”.
I would like to know how much money is spent at the State level to ensure equality through redistribution of the wealth, only to see this abysmal performance. Clearly, throwing money to ensure equality is not the overall answer.
Allow me to get a little personal on the next set of facts. We live in Concord Township – taxing district #8. How did the Riverside School district serve their students, and at the same time protect the home values of Concord?
In 2016 – 2017, Riverside had 4,417 students, and had revenue of $48.4 million, an average spend of $10,960 – well below the State average of $14,162 [$3,202- 22.6% less]. On the State testing they earned a “C” grade, which is 2.0 on our scale. Well, at least we can say that they beat the State average of 1.55; but remember, no one should aspire to be average. To be fair, it is important to compare one year to other years, but that is not available at this time. Perhaps the “C” is up from a “D” in other years. If they had the resources that the districts that earned an “A” had, could they have received a higher grade?
The overall weighted average grade for Lake County schools was 1.44 (D), and they spent ~$412 million teaching 30,811 children. (Average spend per pupil was $13,368) Five schools received a “D”, while four schools received a “C”.
Mentor Average Spend $14,503 Grade C
Willoughby-Eastlake Average Spend $13,316 Grade D
Riverside Average Spend $10,960 Grade C
Painesville City Average Spend $14,338 Grade D
Perry Local Average Spend $16,079 Grade C
Madison Average Spend $10,062 Grade D
Wickliffe Average Spend $16,825 Grade D
Kirtland Average Spend $12,738 Grade C
Fairport Harbor Average Spend $ 11,579 Grade D
This shows to me that Riverside outperformed the other schools in Lake County for 2016-2017. This does not reflect the real estate tax increase effective in 2018.
When I see this poor performance by Lake County schools, I suggest we alter the statement that good schools are important for maintaining home values. It should be: “The PERCEPTION of good schools is necessary to maintain home values”. Very few, if any, potential buyers check the school’s report card before they move into an area. We believe that they rely strictly on the reputation of the school, and the other private school options in the area. In addition, other factors that are outside of our control impact home values more than good schools. We remind you of the 2008 economic disaster where most people lost 15% – 20% of their home values.
The fundamental problem is the unconstitutional use of real estate taxes as a funding mechanism for public schools. It is not sustainable, since we most certainly will price those living on fixed incomes out of their homes. In 2016 – 2017, according to the Cupp report the total school revenue generated by real estate taxes for the entire state was $9.9 billion, representing 41% of the total revenue of $24.17 billion. We would have to either switch to a sales or income tax to replace the $9.9 billion, drastically cut operating school operating costs by combining school districts, or a combination of both.
There are many other statistics that the State of Ohio gathers on all of the school districts. As time permits, we will try to analyze those statistics to see if we can glean any facts from them for you.
We welcome any comments you may have on this subject. We will like to find a solution rather than “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”.