Lean times for Groveport Madison

Shrinking enrollment and a troubled economy is leading to a loss in funding for Groveport Madison Local Schools.

At the Groveport Madison Board of Education’s Dec. 10 meeting, Treasurer Anthony Swartz said, based on a count made in October, that the district has 200 fewer students enrolled this year compared to last year. He said this, coupled with state cuts in parity aid and poverty based assistance, translates in the loss of about $1.2 million in state funding for the district.

On top of this loss of funding, Swartz warned the district will most likely lose additional funding from the state, which is having its own budget woes.

"It’s not going to be a very warming next six months," said Swartz of the loss of state funds. "We’re not alone. If the state enacts across the board cuts in the its budget it will affect everyone."
Swartz said many of the 200 fewer students appear to now be enrolled in the Groveport Community School charter school, which added grades seven and eight to its school this year and plans.

Superintendent Scott McKenzie said Groveport Madison now has around 5,900 students and could possibly lose up to 200 more next year when Groveport Community School plans to add a high school to its complex. McKenzie added that there are 1,048 students who live in the district but who do not attend Groveport Madison schools, opting instead to attend charter or private schools.

"I’d love to know why we’re losing students to schools that are performing below our district," said board member John Kershner, who asked for a detailed report on the matter.

McKenzie said there are plans to send out a brochure to district residents comparing Groveport Madison’s academic performance with the private and charter schools it is competing against.
Board member Nathan Slonaker cautioned that district officials "shouldn’t attack" the charter/private schools. McKenzie said the brochure would just be a fact based comparison.

Potential cuts being planned

With the looming loss of funding, McKenzie said district administration officials are in the process of budget reduction discussions.

"With the loss of the levy (last November) and state funds, we have to look at ways to reduce expenses," said McKenzie, who added the district should plan on placing a levy on the May 5 ballot.

McKenzie said administrative officials are preparing a list of recommended cuts  for the district that will be brought to the board’s Jan. 14 meeting for review. Then the proposed reductions will be presented at three community forums, tentatively scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on:

•Jan. 20 at Middle School North;
•Jan. 21 at Middle School South;
•Jan. 26 at the high school.

Information from the community meetings regarding the proposed cuts will then be compiled and discussed at a board work session before the board’s February meeting. A finalized list of reductions, along with a levy request, would then be voted on at the school board’s Feb. 11 meeting. The district must file its levy request with the Franklin County Board of Elections by Feb. 19 to appear on the May ballot.

McKenzie said some of the proposed cuts could be reinstated if a levy passes, but others would remain in place regardless whether or not a levy is approved.

Kershner asked if spending limits should be implemented in the mean time.

"Everything is being justified as it goes," said Swartz. "We’re getting to the point where we have things that can’t be cut, like gas and electric."
 

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