By TOM GIAMBRONI
LISBON - Columbiana County school districts received a combined $350,892 in tax revenue from Ohio's casinos as part of a recent statewide distribution totaling $38 million.
The money distributed by the Ohio Department of Taxation represents the initial payment schools are due from the first-ever casinos that opened in the state last summer.
The tax revenue is to be distributed twice a year on a per-pupil basis, which comes out to $20.93 per student.
Of the $350,892, approximately $309,259 (or 88 percent) was distributed to the 12 traditional public school districts in the county.
The following is a distribution breakdown among traditional school districts:
- East Liverpool: $46,682.
- Salem: $43,452.
- Beaver Local: $41,229.
- United Local: $27,367.
- East Palestine: $25,983.
- Crestview: $25,752.
- Lisbon: $19,901.
- Columbiana: $18,014.
- Wellsville: $17,574.
- Southern Local: $16,840.
- Leetonia: $14,889.
- County Vocational School: $11,576.
The rest will go to school districts in adjoining counties attended by local students as well as online and charter schools, such as the Buckeye Online School for Success (BOSS), which is to receive $5,494.
While there are 612 traditional school districts in Ohio, a total of 1,019 schools will receive casino tax revenue because of online and charter schools.
Lisbon School Superintendent Don Thompson said any additional income is welcome, but the nearly $20,000 they are scheduled to receive is not enough to offset state funding cuts the district has undergone in recent years.
"You don't want to sound unappreciative, but it isn't a major amount," although it can be used to help pay bills, he said. "Hopefully, it continues to go up."
Thompson said school officials fear the state legislature could eventually treat casino tax revenue the same as state lottery profits, which were supposed to go for education. A portion of the process from lottery does go to schools, but this was offset with cuts in state education funding.
The money comes from state taxes imposed on the three operating casinos in Ohio, in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. A fourth casino, in Cincinnati, is scheduled to open in March.
School districts are earmarked to receive 34 percent of the casino tax revenue, while 15 percent is divided among Ohio's largest cities. The remaining 51 percent is paid to counties four times a year.
Columbiana Commissioners received casino tax payments of $93,898 in July and $187,414 in October. They are also to receive $249,048 disbursement in January, bringing its total to $530,396.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)