During the Oct. 8 Pickerington Board of Education meeting, Treasurer Vince Utterback and I made a presentation about the current and future financial situation of the Pickerington Local School District. A major piece of this financial picture is the district’s request for instructional operating dollars on Nov. 6.
Issue 8, on the ballot that day, is a 5-mill operating issue that was approved by voters in 1994 and renewed twice since then. Issue 8 will allow the district to keep pace with inflation and bring the 1994 dollars up to current values.
Every penny from Issue 8 will be used for instructional expenses and student support such as:
•insuring a competitive edge with staff salaries and benefits to attract and retain the best classroom teachers;
•purchasing new textbooks so students have current learning materials;
•purchasing new software and computers so students can use up-to-date technology; and,
•continuing to provide bus transportation for many of the district’s students.
No money from this issue will be used for construction of new facilities.
I have often been asked why school districts must turn to the voters for repeated levies. The answer is reasonably simple: while expenses rise with inflation, levies produce funds that remain constant.
Since Ohio law does not allow tax issues approved by voters to rise with property values, the revenue stream from this issue has remained the same for nearly 13 years. While the district does receive some revenue increase for new construction, this is offset by a corresponding decrease in state funding.
However during this time, expenses have increased dramatically as student enrollment has increased. While the district has done a fantastic job of managing this challenge, it is natural for school districts to have rising expenses outpaced constant revenues. This forces the district to dip into the limited cash reserve available for general fund expenses that are used in the classroom. This cash reserve is important as it allows the district to maintain basic operations without the slash-and-burn effect that many other districts are engaging in when they allow rising expenses to completely deplete their cash reserve.
I know the community is ballot and tax weary. I promise all district resources will be used efficiently and effectively in providing an excellent-quality education for every student. This is the district’s financial success driver for achieving our team goal and assurance to the community.
In addition, I am creating a Contract with the Community. This contract addresses four major key components:
•keeping the existing quality education;
•achieving the Team Goal through the Success Drivers;
•stretching levy dollars as long as possible; and,
•increasing communication with the community.
If the community will approve the 5-mill levy on Nov. 6 and the 7.9-mill operating issue that expires in December 2008, then the district will achieve the Community Contract and not need to ask voters for additional instructional dollars for four fiscal years.
The financial presentation from the Oct. 8 board meeting that includes this information and much more is available via the district’s Web site at www.pickerington.k12.oh.us/administrativeDepartment.aspx?aid=40. I encourage all residents to go online and read the complete synopsis that accompanies this slide show. Being transparent with this financial information is also part of our Community Contract and the district’s responsibility to the community.
I am proud to say that I am part of the Pickerington community and this great school district. If any community members have additional questions related to this issue I encourage you to contact the district’s Administrative Offices at (614) 833-2110. Either Mr. Utterback or myself will be happy to address any questions you may have. Please support our schools on Nov. 6.
Dr. Karen Mantia is superintendent of Pickerington Local Schools.