London City Schools makes cuts to stave off deficit spending

(Posted April 11, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London City Schools’ expenditures are outpacing revenues this year by a projected $350,000. To stabilize finances, district leaders are making personnel changes, reducing budgets, and looking for new sources of revenue.

“Sometimes we have to make tough calls. As good stewards of the district’s finances, it is our job to do that to continue to make opportunities for success for our students,” said Darryl Brown, school board president, at the board’s April 9 meeting.

The board approved the following cuts to personnel:

  • reduction of two building secretary positions effective Aug. 1 due to staff reorganization and shortage of funds;
  • reduction of two paraprofessional positions effective Aug. 1 due to staff reorganization and lack of work;
  • reduction of the London Elementary media aide position effective Aug. 1 due to staff reorganization and a shortage of funds;
  • reduction of the contract for the student support specialist by 10 days effective the start of the 2019-20 school year, by mutual agreement.

Superintendent Lou Kramer said he will present recommendations for reductions in budgets for technology, maintenance and instructional resources at the May board meeting.

As for why the district is in deficit spending, Kramer said, “It’s been 12 years since our last levy with new revenues. During that time, we’ve had no significant increase in state funding.” Inflation has impacted costs, as well, he added.

“So, this year, our expenditures have caught up with our revenues,” he continued.

By making personnel changes and budget reductions, Kramer said, “It is likely next year we won’t deficit spend.”

Another key to the stabilization effort is renewal of the district’s 1 percent income tax levy. The levy expires at the end of 2020. The district plans to put a renewal request on this November’s general election ballot. The levy has been renewed twice before, each for five years. Brown noted that the levy represents no new taxes.

As for new revenue sources, one possibility that also would provide a much needed service to district residents is before- and after-school childcare. Currently, the district does not offer this service.

Kramer said he and other district leaders are researching the idea of contracting with Champions Before- and After-School, a childcare vendor, to provide at-school childcare for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Parents who opt to use the service will pay a fee. The district would get a share of the revenues.

Kramer said he likes the fact that the Champions model is accredited and curriculum-based. He said he will present a formal recommendation at the next board meeting.

“I think this will be very well received in the community,” Brown said.

In other action, the board recognized 42 athletes from the high school who participated in state competition or earned all-State honors this year. They included the competition cheer squad, which finished 13th at state, and the wrestling team, which won regionals and competed in the state team duals.

Members of the cheer team included Isabel Bonn, Savanna Burke, Cadence Doughman, Denae Doyle, Chloe Fender, Alyssa Fox, Allie Handley, Alexis Harrison, Kylee Long, Gabby Mounts, Makenna Payton, Zoie Robison, Ellie Stires and Emma Stucke.

Members of the wrestling team included Antonio Burns, Antwuan Burns, Josh Colvin, Dominic Michael Davis, Brady Fisher, Cheney Gross, Darian Huff, Thadd Huff, Tyjuan Jackson, Ethan James, Grace Jones, Josiah Kennedy, Gabriel Lenigar, Jack Minner, John Narewski, Michael Plunkett, Nic Scaggs, Tyler Scaggs, Saif Ullah, Garrett Weldon and Jeremiah Yearout.

Among the 42 athletes were eight who earned individual state honors:

  • Antwuan Burns–2019 wrestling, fourth place at 138 pounds;
  • Josh Colvin–2019 wrestling, state qualifier;
  • Malorie Colwell–2019 basketball, honorable mention all-Ohio;
  • Josh Corwin, 2019 bowling, state qualifier;
  • Jack Gould, 2018 football, first-team all-Ohio;
  • K.J. Price–2018 track, state qualifier in 100 meters; 2018 football, first-team all-Ohio and a Mr. Football nominee;
  • Brennan Spiess–2018 football, second-team all-Ohio;
  • Bricker Theil–2018 football, first-team all-Ohio; and
  • Trey Woodyard–2019 basketball, third-team all-Ohio.

Additionally, boys’ basketball coach Zach Brown was named Div. II Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

“The past year has been very special for the high school, the athletic department and the athletes,” said high school Principal Michael Browning.

The school board also:

  • approved transition of the middle school softball and baseball programs from district-sponsored sports recognized by the Ohio High School Athletic Association to club sport status starting with the 2019-20 school year at a cost savings of $16,000;
  • approved the appointment of Liam Gruzs to the London Public Library board of trustees.

The board’s next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. May 14 in Room 311 at the high school.

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