Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

District officials fear fiscal emergency

Officials in the South-Western City Schools District say without the passage of Issue 47, the district could be in a fiscal emergency in 2012. 

At the Sept. 28 board of education meeting, Hugh Garside, treasurer, reported the district is now close to fiscal caution. 

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has three levels of fiscal status – caution, watch and emergency.  

Garside said if the district had not made cuts starting in 2007, the district would currently be under fiscal watch with a fiscal emergency status in 2010. 

Garside reported this to the board because the five-year forecast is coming up in October. The forecast is presented to the board then adopted. It is then passed along to ODE for analysis. Garside said ODE officials would compare finances to the previous year. 

In order for a district to fall into fiscal caution, it would have a 2 percent to 8 percent deficit compared to prior year revenues. It would have to be in a deficit of $3.9 million to $15.6 million. ODE could then visit and inspect the district then make recommendations to the board.  

Fiscal watch is a $15.6 million to $29.3 million deficit. The state superintendent would evaluate a financial recovery plan, presented by district administration. The district would then have to implement the recovery plan. 

Board member Randy Reisling noted,This is not the state coming in to save the day.

Garside added,They are not coming in with a checkbook. They would recommend more cuts and the passage of a levy.

Officials also said the state will not take over for the board.  

If the district were to reach the fiscal emergency status, it would be facing a deficit of nearly $30 million. In that case, the district would need to implement the financial recovery plan. If the plan was not put in place, a financial planning and supervision commission would govern the districts finances.  

In 2012, without additional funds, the district projects a deficit of $34 million.  

Garside said a school district in Springfield, Ohio went through fiscal emergency status. He said they came out of it by passing a levy.  

Issue 47 is a permanent 7.4-mill tax levy that would generate $18 million for the district. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $227 each year or $18 per month.  

In the past three years, the district has cut approximately $22 million from its budget, including over 300 positions. The district also eliminated athletics, extracurricular activities and high school busing. Two schools have closed and facilities now shut down shortly after the school day.  

Voters have rejected the districts last three levy attempts.

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