By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools’ finances are in good shape, but the district’s most recent five year financial forecast indicates renewing the existing levy is key to maintaining solid financial footing.
The district’s 6.8 mill levy was passed in May 2014 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2019.
“The current expense 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 Groveport Madison Treasurer John Walsh.
The Groveport Madison Board of Education plans to discuss its levy options at its work session meeting on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the district offices, 4400 Marketing Place, Suite B, in Groveport.
Walsh said if the levy is renewed, the district is projecting a positive overall “bottom line” ending balance for the next five years.
The forecast also shows the district with positive cash balances of $16.7 million in 2018; $18.8 million in 2019; $15.8 million in 2020; and $8 million in 2021. However a deficit of $1.7 million is projected in 2022 depending on levy results.
According to the forecast, the district’s general fund revenue for fiscal year 2018 is $83.4 million and $85.4 million for 2019.
The district receives 53.5 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. He said the district has to wait until the state enacts its 2020-21 and 2022-23 biennial budgets to know what their impact would be on the amount of state funding Groveport Madison would receive in the future.
According to the forecast, the district’s expenditures for fiscal year 2018 are $78.2 million and $81.9 million in 2019.
District employee wages and benefits account for 65 percent of the district’s expenditures.
“People costs are the biggest item and they are what drive your operation,” Walsh said.
Purchased services make up 30 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, 34 percent of purchase services expenses come from Groveport Madison being required to make payments to community (charter) schools. Likewise, the Educational Choice Voucher program and open enrollment schools are also expenses. These expenses are due to students who live in the district but 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 this amounts to between $11 million to $13 million annually. He said there around 1,100 to 1,200 students who live within the Groveport Madison district but who attend school elsewhere.
“But, if they all came back I don’t know where we’d put them all,” said Walsh.