Pickerington schools financially sound; teachers’ contract approved


By Lori Smith
Staff Writer

Pickerington schools are on solid financial ground for now, according to the district’s five-year forecast, but some changes may need to be made in the future.

At the May 21 meeting of the Pickerington Board of Education, Treasurer/CFO Ryan Jenkins updated the board on the district’s financial status. He says he does it twice a year to keep the board up-to-date.

“By this point in the year this refresher basically gives you a head-start on the next school year,” he said, and reminded the board that school finance is an ever-evolving process.

“What’s noticeable is how much the property tax has increased,” he said, showing how it was forecasted at $34 million in October and is now predicted to be $35 million in May. “It’s not because we are having any new levies.”

In regard to revenue, the five-year forecast assumes there will be moderately robust new real estate growth, the current state funding formula will remain the same, and there will be robust income tax growth.

“The current funding formula has been very good to the Pickerington Local School District,” Jenkins said in regard to the state contributions.

In addition, he said, “We have a highly residential district. We grew very, very fast and we do have relatively high wage earners in the district.”

In regard to expenditures, Jenkins said, the main expenses are personnel, benefits, and purchased services. Those are showing remaining relatively close to predictions, with personnel services making up $65 million of the expenditures in May, the same amount budgeted for in October. Employee retirement and insurance benefits are up slightly from the $23.5 million projected in October to the $24 million projected in May. Purchased services also increased from $17.7 million projected in October to $18.5 million projected in May.

“The biggest piece of our budget outside of salaries is benefits,” Jenkins said.

The five-year forecast assumes there will be wage increases, staff increases, and increased health care/insurance premium costs, he noted.

All things considered, Jenkins told the board, the district starts running a deficit in 2019.

“The good news is we have reserves built,” Jenkins said, noting that there will be almost $33 million in reserves at the end of fiscal year 2019. However, by the end of 2021 the district will be going through the reserves quickly, so a decision will need to be made about when to go to the voters to ask for operating funds. By fiscal year 2022, he said, if there are no additional levies, the district will end the year with a $9 million deficit and will have $12 million in reserves.

Teachers’ contract
The board approved a three-year contract with the Pickerington Education Association, which represents teachers and other non-administrative, certificated staff members in the district. A teacher with no previous experience will now have the starting salary of $41,728. This contract includes a 2.5 percent salary increase in 2018-19 and 2 percent each in 2019-20 and 2021-22.

“These were incredibly positive negotiations,” said Superintendent Chris Briggs in a news release. “Everyone at the bargaining table consistently exhibited professionalism and mutual respect. The teachers, administrators, and board of education were able to come to consensus on the agreement in a very short period of time, which speaks to what a great district we have in Pickerington. I was especially pleased to see that throughout our efforts, everyone at the table remained focused on our primary mission – providing the highest quality education for our students.”

Board President Keith Kristoff added, “Thanks to everyone involved with this. It does take a commitment. It’s really nice to have it finished before school let out.”

Board member Vanessa Niekamp agreed, “I thought it was a very pleasant experience and it speaks well for our students, staff and community.”

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