[ back ]
Bexley Schools begins crunching numbers
As school districts await the governor's education plan to work its way through the Ohio House and Senate, Bexley Schools is crunching numbers.
With the district looking at placing an operating levy before voters in 2010, any initiatives found in the current plan - or modifications made by Ohio lawmakers - could have an effect on how much the school district requests from voters.
Under Gov. Ted Strickland's education plan, the current school year would be extended by 20 days to a total of 200, over the course of 10 years.
The governor has said the move would put Ohio schools at a more competitive level with international schools and would change the look of the current outdated school calendar.
But the changes could come with costs.
For every two days added, Bexley Schools Superintendent Michael L. Johnson said it would cost the district approximately $140,000 of additional pay and benefits.
"That would be another impact on the community," Johnson told board members at their Feb. 9 school board meeting.
Add in inflation, the cost to operate the buildings, busing and other expenditures, and school district officials estimate the initiative could cost the district $7.7 million for an extra 20 days of school.
"That's quite a number," school board president Andrew Sutter said.
Board members also discussed two other initiatives that are part of the governor's education plan - full-day kindergarten and reducing class sizes.
Implementing full-day kindergarten would cost Bexley schools an additional $250,000 in expenditures, and would generate no new revenue, Johnson estimates.
Reducing class size to a ratio of one teacher per 15 students would mean restructuring the school district to accommodate extra classrooms, Johnson said.
The district estimates an additional 12 teachers would need to be hired, which would add $900,000 in additional expenditures.
While these are broad estimates, Johnson said these are the "signature numbers" under the governor's current plan that the district must look at in the coming months.
Adding to the uncertainty is the amount of funding Bexley Schools is guaranteed.
Johnson told board members the district must be prepared to lose some state funding even though other districts are hoping for additional funding.
The heart of the issue - assessed values are going up in Bexley as the number of students are going down.
"The governor has guaranteed no district would lose more than 2 percent," Johnson said. "In Bexley's case, that equals $1.4 million."
Although Bexley could receive federal funding and could maintain its state funding as part of a stimulus package, school officials say the governor's plan will play into the amount of the levy that will go on the ballot, but not the time line.
The school district has not placed a levy on the ballot since 2004. That levy was intended to cover five years of operation costs, but the district stretched its budget to cover six years of costs.
Bexley Schools is facing a shortfall of $1.5 to $2.7 million due to falling interest rates, state budget cuts and a decrease in expected revenue from income tax.
Johnson said the district is working toward the goal of reducing expenditures by $1.2 million to help offset this shortfall in the short term.
Board member Craig Halliday said members of the community are encouraged to provide input to the board concerning school finances and the levy. On Feb. 3, a meeting was held to initiate a task force that will provide input on the timing, amount and length of the next levy.
Another meeting will be scheduled in about five weeks, and members of the community are encouraged to attend.
For information about the task force, contact Amy Thompson, Bexley Schools Communications, at (614) 238-6663.
[ back ]