Groveport Madison Schools Superintendent Garilee Ogden said, due to state funding cuts of more than $5 million, the district was forced to make budget reductions to maintain a balanced budget throughout the next five years.
In May, Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order reducing state funding to Ohio’s schools by $300 million due to the loss of sales tax revenue from the effects of the coronavirus. Of that amount, Groveport Madison’s reduction equaled approximately $1.1 million (appx. 2.67 percent of the district’s fiscal year 2020 budget). The state made the initial funding reduction with only six weeks remaining in the current fiscal year (ending on July 31, 2020).
“While the $1.1 million in state funding reductions immediately impacted our budget, thankfully, we were in a better financial position than many school districts,” said Groveport Madison Treasurer Felicia Drummey. “Last year, Superintendent Ogden made expenditure reductions that resulted in $700,000 in net savings for the district. These savings, coupled with other cost-cutting measures taken over this year, set up the district to be more than $988,000 under budget by our July 31 fiscal year-end. Were it not for the $700,000 in reductions made last year, the $1.1 million in state funding cuts we just received would have caused significantly more impact on our current financial situation.”
According to the state treasurer’s projections, Ohio’s public schools should expect to see state funding cuts ranging from four to 10 percent.
“Groveport Madison is dependent on state funding,” said Drummey. “Nearly half of our total funding comes from the state. A state funding cut of 10 percent equals nearly $4.2 million to us annually. Keeping in mind that deficits compound year over year, it’s critical that we also make budget reductions for the coming year, or we will see even greater deficits in the coming years.”
Added Ogden, “We are taking the responsible step of reducing expenditures now to avoid future operating deficits that would have wide-ranging impacts on programs, staffing, and opportunities for our students. Ensuring the continuity of instruction and the financial stability of the district are our top concerns. This is particularly challenging now when considering the potential expenses that will inevitably result from operating our schools while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.”
Ogden said schools provide services, and like other service industries, the vast majority of expenses are related to labor costs.
“We know that making budget reductions impact people’s livelihood, and it’s one of the most gut-wrenching decisions we have to make as leaders,” said Ogden. “We have worked very hard to develop a cost-reduction plan that: minimizes the impact on our students and the quality of their academic program; minimizes the impact on our staff; and ensures the district remains on stable financial footing through at least 2024 (when the current operating levy is up for renewal).”
District officials believe most of the job losses could be managed through attrition and/or not filling positions that were anticipated to be filled in the future.
The district’s financial plan includes:
•$2.3 million in staffing reductions and spending reductions in fiscal years 2021 or 2022 staff positions to remain unfilled (through attrition, expiring contracts and program changes).
•Addition of $2 million in Student Wellness and Success Funding from the state ($500,000 new dollars this year).
•Addition of one-time federal “CARES” Funding for Title services (estimated at $1.9 million).
“Based on these assumptions, we expect to end fiscal year 2021 with a projected surplus of $793,130,” said Ogden. “Additional cost reductions will be made in fiscal year 2022 by not filling positions that occur through attrition and revising scheduling of certain courses to maximize operational efficiency. Based on the information we know now, we believe we have a solid financial plan in place for the foreseeable future. There are still many unknowns, but we will continue to follow any additional news from the state closely, monitory any additional expenses realized as a result of the Coronavirus, and we will do our absolute best to provide the high-quality education that our students deserve.”