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Reynoldsburg Schools begins reductions after failed levy
Reynoldsburg Schools has tapped into its budget reserve to help fund operating expenses – a move school officials said is necessary in fiscal distress.
District officials continue to look at areas to cut, but moved immediately to make reduction of a few staff positions, including a custodial resignation that will not be replaced as well as an additional $500,000 in personnel reduction by the beginning of the year.
“The voters spoke to us,” Superintendent Steve Dackin said at the Nov. 17 board meeting, “We are going to respond.”
The district has placed a spending freeze on school building budgets that include things such as books, supplies and other costs, with only emergency needs being approved. There also have been additional reductions in spending for maintenance as well as reduction in heat to buildings.
“The voters have been very clear about our need to reduce our expenditures,” Dackin said. “We have responded each time and will continue to do that.”
Dackin said the district is quickly moving down the path to state minimal areas and re-prioritizing those areas that are not required by the state. Those areas are inclusive of elective coursework for both junior high and senior high as well as an increase in class size and the prospect of not opening the new buildings.
“We simply do not have the revenue to open new schools,” Dackin said.
Closing buildings such as Graham Road Elementary is also being considered. All reductions of non-instructional dollars are being looked at.
“It does not alleviate our need to have revenue in this district,” Dackin said. “There are not a whole lot of choices now.”
Schools are recommended to function with a cash balance of 60 to 90 days, District Treasurer Tammy Miller said.
“Reynoldsburg is down to five days,” she said.
Even with the mid-year cuts that will help, the district will still only have 10 days cash balance.
Board members passed a resolution to authorize a move from the budget reserve into the operating fund. The district is only allowed by guidelines to take the money out when in fiscal distress.
“I certainly think we do meet the definition of fiscal distress,” Miller said. “We're not going to be able to solve all our problems by making more cuts.”
Community member Dan Hayes requested the board consider such things as reduction in salary and benefits paid by the district when the staff contracts are re-negotiated.
“I believe it's time to ask the board to be tough in the next negotiations,” Hayes said.
Former school board candidate David Hedrick said cutting won't solve the problems.
“You can reduce,” he said, “but it won't matter in the long run. It's in the best interest of the district to pass the next operating levy brought before the voters. Without my generation staying here in Reynoldsburg there is no future.”
Hayes said he was aware he was in the minority of those in attendance.
“I think a lot of the people today are people who are afraid to voice their opinion,” he said. “I was afraid, but I still felt I should speak up.”
The District Finance Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 at the central office regarding the five-year forecast.
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