The perfect storm: Reynoldsburg prepares for cuts

The amount Reynoldsburg Schools will ask for in an operating levy this spring is still undecided, and officials acknowledge they might have to make "a decision in the dark" due to expected additional cuts in state funding.

The Ohio Department of Education has warned school district superintendents to expect a 25-percent reduction in state revenue next year, which would mean a loss of more than $5 million for Reynoldsburg City Schools.

The state cut comes at a time when Reynoldsburg is planning an additional $10 million in cuts next school year based on current revenue projections.

"If we need to factor in another $5 to $6 million in reductions, it challenges our assumption of an operating levy in May," Dackin said.

The district announced Dec. 11 that it had taken a first step by cutting $387,000 in immediate, permanent budget reductions.

The cuts included a 15-percent reduction to current building budgets and an increase in athletic participation fees from $35 per sport to $100 per sport effective Jan. 1. The increase in fees was approved at the Dec. 16 Board of Education meeting.

Property tax and income tax revenues – the district’s two other major revenue sources in addition to state funding – have been stagnant and do not show signs of increasing in the short-term, district officials say.

Originally, the district’s finance committee projected there would be a 2.8 percent increase in revenue for fiscal year 2010, Superintendent Steve Dackin told board members. However, with real estate collections down, there may be no growth in 2010 and only a 1.5 percent funding increase in 2011.

At the board meeting, district Treasurer Mitch Biederman’s five-year forecast was presented to the board. It included the $10 million in cuts that is necessary to keep the district solvent, but did not include the projected cuts in state funding that were announced after the five-year forecast was compiled.

"If we have to cut $15 to $16 million, I can’t envision a school system we have today," Dackin said.

Board member Chip Martin referred to the economic crisis as "the perfect storm."

"We couldn’t have gotten hit at a worse time," he said.

The finance committee currently is discussing an operating levy for the May ballot to reduce the level of cuts. Voters rejected a 6.9 mill operating levy in November.

Immediate cuts
• Effective immediately, all building budgets will be reduced by 15 percent from the original FY09 appropriation. All district discretionary spending will be reduced or eliminated through supply/equipment/purchased service cuts.

• The district will pay for no academic field trips. Trips that are sponsored by parents or outside groups will be permitted.

• Athletic participation fees will be increased to $100 per sport, per participant. This fee will be in effect beginning Jan. 1. The district is looking into outside resources to help families who cannot afford the fee.

• The district sub caller will be eliminated, effective Jan. 15.

• All paychecks will be direct deposited and employees will be notified by district e-mail of their deposit, effective Jan. 1. No deposit slips will be printed or mailed to employees.

• No general fund money will be used to purchase food for any meeting or event.

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