By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools’ five year forecast indicates the district is on solid financial footing, but its future stability depends on the renewal of its current operating levy and future potential changes in state funding.
“We are projecting a positive ending balance throughout the entire forecast period with the renewal of the levy,” said Groveport Madison Treasurer John Walsh. “Prior cuts, the levy, and new state money provide stability through fiscal year 2021. Over the next several years we are in excellent position to make gains for our students.”
The district’s 6.8 mill levy was passed in May 2014 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2019.
“This current operating levy will need to be renewed in 2019 for collection to continue in 2020 in order to maintain fiscal stability for the district in the future,” said Walsh.
The forecast shows the district with positive cash balances of $15.4 million in 2018; $16.8 million in 2019; $13.9 million in 2020; and $6.2 million in 2021.
When asked what impact the recent county property reappraisals will have on the property taxes the district will receive, Walsh said, “District-wide, on average, the overall property value increase is 14.92 percent. Most of the increase will be offset through House Bill 920. Our values are estimated to increase approximately $82 million through the reappraisal with a total approximate increase of $98 million. The increase over and above the reappraisal is the net amount for demolition/new construction. Our collections will increase about 1.8 percent from a baseline of $33 million from last fiscal year.”
According to the forecast, the district receives 53 percent of its revenue from state funding. Real estate property taxes make up 41 percent of the revenue with the remaining 6 percent coming from other local sources.
Walsh said potential and unknown future changes in state funding would have an affect on Groveport Madison’s finances.
“State aid is always a concern when it represents 50 percent of the revenue stream,” said Walsh. “We need to run our operations efficiently and staff the district appropriately. The operating levy renewal I believe is a larger item of concern. Usually, the state funding formula has stop-gap measures to ease the funding reductions, but not renewing a tax levy has an immediate impact.”
Wages and benefits account for 62 percent of the district’s expenditures.
“People costs are your biggest item,” said Walsh.
Purchased services make up 33 percent of expenses while materials are 3 percent, capital is 1 percent and miscellaneous is 1 percent.
Purchased services expenses include payments for contracted services, utilities, gas, electric, property insurance, and transportation. However, 39 percent of purchases services expenses come from Groveport Madison being required to make payments to community (charter) schools, the Educational Choice Voucher program, and open enrollment schools because approximately 1,300 students who live in the district attend school elsewhere. In Ohio, state money follows the student so Groveport Madison loses dollars to other schools that these students choose to attend instead of Groveport Madison. Walsh said Groveport Madison’s community (charter) annual school deduction totaled $9.9 million with another couple of million dollars going to open enrollment schools and the Educational Choice Voucher Program.
“However,” said Walsh noting the district’s crowded schools, “if those 1,300 students came back to Groveport Madison, where would we put them?”