Merchandising our schools- lame attempt to help fix Ohio’s School funding problem

Sure, Ohio State makes a mint selling “officially sanctioned” merchandise. Terrelle Pryor jerseys made the school a lot of money before he tried to cash in on his fame and brought the machine down to its knees.

Now, we’re going to try to solve our pre-K-12 funding problems by allowing schools to sell merchandise instead of only the booster clubs, thanks to a new bill introduced by local State Rep. Mike Henne:

School districts in Montgomery County could become the first in Ohio to explore new revenue streams — beyond relying on taxes, state and federal aid and donations — under a new bill that would allow them to earn profits on its facilities, services and merchandise.

State Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton, introduced the bill Friday that would amend current legislation and allow Montgomery County’s 16 school districts to pilot the new program. The bill would allow districts to earn profits off a variety of services, including rentals of classes to selling school merchandise, such as T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts, above costs.

“It’s not about redoing all the school funding formula,” Henne said. “It’s about giving (schools) the ability to make some additional money.”

For the next two years, operating funds for Ohio schools have been cut nearly $780 million in state funding….

Henne said the pilot plan was suggested by Vandalia-Butler City Schools and its treasurer, Dan Schall.

“Dan thinks he can fill the gaps (with this bill),” he said. “It’s how creative and how much the school system decides to use it.

“Everything they do has to be within the mission of the school system. They can’t create something like how to make a widget better or open a restaurant. Maybe they come up with an online program how to learn French, whatever it is.”

Vandalia-Butler’s current operating budget is $35 million. Schall said if the bill passes, he projects his district could eventually generate 1 percent of new revenue of its total budget.

“Dan’s one of the more progressively thinking treasurers out there,” Henne said. “He’s always trying to think outside the box.”

Under the current law, only booster clubs — such as ones for marching bands and athletic teams — and not school districts can make profits off merchandise, concessions and other activities. Henne said the updated bill would allow school districts to charge beyond what it costs them to operate a particular venue, class or service.

Schall said passage of the bill creates “an additional revenue stream for us. (Currently) we can’t sell anything. We can’t rent for profit. That doesn’t help the taxpayers.

“If we can rent that facility or sell T-shirts or give art classes, we can get a revenue stream that won’t be taxes.”

Schall said the amended bill “is something, down the road, that could replace as much as 1 percent of our budget. It’s a first step in identifying new revenue streams.”

Henne said the bill will allow schools to “sell their brand, rent space (for a profit), sell educational services and sell technology.’

via Schools may generate revenue from sales of goods, services.

So, now, in addition to little Timmy’s parents having to pay for Timmy to play basketball with an additional fee, the school can also start selling him school branded clothing at a markup to make up for the fact that our system for funding schools in Ohio was ruled unconstitutional long before little Timmy was born and the state legislature has done nothing to fix?

There used to be a couple of cool hippies who lived behind my office. They had a bumper sticker that applies to this – it was something like: “Wouldn’t it be great when schools had all the money they needed and the Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”

School funding in Ohio is broken. Selling merchandise may be a fun distraction for some administrator in a school district that still can afford to pay them to do something other than meet all the other state mandates while working with a lot less money, but it is far from what the students in Ohio need.

It’s time to fix our school funding problems once and for all, and to have the best schools in the nation, because, no matter what the “economic development” gurus say, the number one thing that drives a community value is the quality of the schools- and the number one thing that drives value in our new economy is a well educated workforce.

Unfortunately, in Ohio, we’ve been told that the lottery was going to provide revenue to our schools and now, that casino gambling and video slots at racetracks are going to be engines of economic growth. The only thing that grows our capacity to compete is education- and it’s time to stop nickel and diming our educators.

When our greatest threat is the economic destruction caused by a debt downgrade from a bond rating agency- maybe it’s time to have less F-35s and more A students.

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