Cuts probable if Pickerington levy fails

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If voters do not approve the 5 mill replacement levy on Nov. 6, the Pickerington Local School District will make cuts.

At the Pickerington Board of Education’s Oct. 8 meeting, Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia stated that, if the levy does not pass, classroom sizes will increase, technology and textbooks will not be frequently updated, and the district will run fewer buses.

Resident Larry Twineman asked the board why they needed to ask residents for more money when the district has $104 million in cash reserve (similar to a savings account).

Mantia said that responsible school districts carry a cash reserve so that when expenses begin to exceed revenue the district has money to pay its bills. Other districts where she worked did not save and had to "slash and burn" programs when their funding was cut.

Treasurer Vince Utterback said the $104 million reserve is comprised of many different funds such as food service and debt retirement which have specific purposes and cannot be used for the general fund.

"At the end of the day, if the levy doesn’t pass, we cannot fund the programs in place today," said board member Wes Monhollen.  "We’ll have to make cuts."

Monhollen said that it doesn’t work to take a "snapshot of a point in time" in terms of the district’s financial ledger. If the voters do not pass the levy, the district will lose $2.8 million and "be in the red.  Period."

Board President Jim Brink said the available cash reserve is between $15 and $20 million which is "not enough to sustain over the long term."

 

Mantia said if the levy passes and the 2008 levy passes as well, the district will enter a "contract with the community" under which the district will maintain educational quality and remain off the ballot "as long as possible."

Starting times could change

The board discussed changing the starting times for schools to save money.

Currently the junior high and high school routes run at the same time followed by the middle schools then the elementary and kindergartens. Therefore, six grades ride the buses on the first loop, two grades on the second, and five grades on the last.

Petermann Transportation, which handles busing for the district, will run computer models to consider moving the junior high students to the same schedule as the middle school students, according to Dave Decsman, the district’s transportation consultant.

This would save money because the district would require fewer buses. Currently the district needs enough buses to transport nearly half the students at the same time (grades 7-12).  

The computer model will also examine the schedule of the other grades for possible adjustments, Decsman said.

The simulation will be done by November then the results will be presented to the board.

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