Wednesday, November 24th, 2021
District seeks to reduce spending
By Sydney Albert
COLDWATER - District treasurer Jenn McCoy on Tuesday said with state funding still expected to remain largely flat, the district must look into other possible sources of revenue and continue finding ways to cut spending where possible.
School board members approved a five-year financial forecast at their regular meeting. McCoy explained that while the district's finances are not quite as dire as previously forecast, deficit spending is expected to continue with the cash balance to get "concerning" by fiscal years 2025 and 2026.
Two major forms of school revenue - property tax collections and state funding - are not anticipated to grow much in the coming years, according to McCoy's predictions.
Under the newly approved state funding formula for schools, Coldwater Exempted Village Schools likely will not see much of a boost. Ohio Department of Education's final figures for each district have been delayed until December - along with the ability to question the amounts and process of calculation, she said. McCoy expects the final figures would be delayed further.
The new school funding formula also effectively cut in half the district's open enrollment revenues, McCoy said.
During the previous fiscal year, the district took in close to $1 million in funds through open enrollment. Coldwater takes in more students than many other area schools through open enrollment but McCoy said the district can expect about half of that $1 million amount going forward.
Open enrollment is still beneficial to the district, however, as the formula factors in district wealth and area property taxes. If the district were to shed roughly 200 students by ending open enrollment, McCoy said the property values and wealth of the district would look higher, resulting in less state funding.
Additionally, with other revenue sources remaining flat, she has been looking into other options such as grants. She stated Tuesday she had acquired $52,000 from a state grant for Chromebooks and iPads used in younger grades.
Salary and benefits continue to make up a large portion of the district's spending, about 84% by the end of the year, according to McCoy. That percentage has not dropped because of the increased costs of benefits such as health insurance and because the district has cut spending in other areas.
McCoy noted the district has been attempting to cut spending as much as possible without having to affect personnel. Cost savings measures have allowed for a projected positive cash balance in fiscal year 2026, which had not been the case in previous forecasts.
The district has been in deficit spending since 2019, and the deficit is expected to continue. However, the recently passed permanent improvement levy would help the district with some cost. Superintendent Jason Wood again thanked the community Tuesday for its support in passing the levy.
McCoy suggested the district could rally around other open enrollment-heavy districts in the state to request changes to funding, but noted any proposed amendments to the state funding formula would take time to move through the legislature. She also said she had attempted to reach out to county commissioners regarding COVID-19 relief funds being passed on to schools and had not heard from them.
Board members also,
• learned the Ohio School Boards Association has withdrawn its affiliation with the National School Boards Association following the national group's letter requesting federal law enforcement and assistance over increased threats and intimidation reported in some school districts.
• heard how the district was seeking to address apparent gaps in the English reading abilities of some students, starting with how children are first taught how to read in elementary grades.