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More funding concerns for Valley schools

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Some of the numbers in the latest budget models coming out of Columbus are raising concerns among local educators.

Those numbers include major proposed cuts in funding for local education service centers.

The Mahoning County Education Service Center is one of 56 around the state that provides a broad scope of services to meet the needs of local school districts.

Boardman Superintendent Frank Lazzeri gave several examples. "Special education services, curriculum services, gifted services, pre-school services, and it goes on and on and on," Lazzeri said.

But now, those education service centers could see their state funding cut by nearly half.

"The governor chose in his budget proposal to slash state foundation money by 49.5% over this biennium budget," said MCESC Superintendent Ron Iaruzzi.

Lazzeri says he's puzzled, because he believes the service centers are an example of what the governor has been advocating, cost savings through shared services.

'Each one of the locals pays a little bit towards their consultants, a little bit towards these special programs. It's that that gives you a lot of bang for your buck," Lazzeri said.

And the fact is the programs can't be eliminated because they are mandated.

"The local districts would see their costs increase to us because we have to make up for the lack of funding or the cuts in funding that we get at the state level," Iaruzzi said.

Right now the service centers are engaged in intense training sessions for local teachers, superintendents and principals on major education reforms.

'How we're going to do this on our own, I don't know, because the county office has always done that. To me it's going to cost us more dollars," Lazzeri said.

Hearings on the ESC funding proposals are scheduled in the Ohio House next month.

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