SWCS discusses forecast at forum


The South-Western City Schools Board of Education held a community forum on Nov. 7 to discuss the five-year forecast.

"To put it in simple terms, it (the forecast) is basically a roadmap to figure out how to get to financial solvency," said SWCS Treasurer Hugh Garside.

After examining the forecast, the board said the financial situation could put the district back on the ballot next November.

"Something has to happen to remain solvent until 2010 to see how everything balances out," said Garside.

The district will run into a deficit balance in fiscal year 2010. With no big cash surplus, they will be working with a $15 million deficit, and that deficit doubles in the fiscal years after.

According to Garside, SWCS will have a positive unreserved fund balance of $11 million in fiscal year 2007, $12 million in 2008 and $2 million unencumbered in 2009.

"The payroll for the district begins at $5 million, so the $2 million surplus is not a lot," Garside said.

The largest cost to the district is salary and benefits. Those expenditures make up approximately 84 percent of the budget.

"It is based on retirement, Medicare and Worker’s Compensation," said Garside.

There has been staff growth, but they have primarily been added for English as a Second Language (ESL) and Special Education classes.

Currently, the district is in contract negotiations with the South-Western Education Association. The certificated agreement expired on June 30, 2007 and the classified agreement runs through June 30, 2009 with a provision to discuss wages annually.

The expenditures for the budget also include supplies and materials, which are anticipated to increase roughly 3 percent for the term of the forecast. The rising cost of fuel is also felt in the district.

"Gas prices are budgeted to increase by 30 percent each year," said Garside.

It is anticipated that the State of Ohio will flat-fund the district in coming years, meaning it will maintain the current levels given to SWCS. The district receives approximately 43 percent of its revenue from the state.

"I can see the district growing 1 to 1.5 percent in revenue each year," said Garside.

The five-year financial forecasts are presented to school boards twice a year, once in May and the other in October. They are required by the State of Ohio to do them.

The date of the next community meeting has not been determined, but Superintendent Kirk Hamilton urges the community to come to the forums.

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