Bexley News

Bexley City Schools forecast

District doesn't need a levy in 2013

Treasurer does advise board to start thinking about an issue by spring 2014

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Bexley City Schools officials say they will be able to extend their promise to stay off the ballot for at least another year following some promising financial news from Treasurer Chris Essman last week.

District coffers will remain relatively stable, although spending may outweigh revenue by next year, cautioned Essman. But the district's end-of-the-year balance will remain healthy for several more years.

"I don't believe we'll be on the ballot this year," Essman told school board members at their regular monthly meeting May 13. "I think that's great news for the community.

"The big picture is that we are in very good shape."

Essman presented board members with the latest financial information this month in the form of his five-year forecast, saying Bexley stands on sure footing for the moment but should begin talking about a levy in the near future.

The five-year forecast is a document the state requires to be filed twice a year, in October and again in May, and it looks at a district's finances in detail over a five-year period. Essman reminded the board the five-year forecast filed with the state is a very fluid document, and will change over the next several months.

According to Essman's forecast, the district will fall into deficit spending by fiscal year 2014, which ends June 30, 2014. At that point, the district could be outspending revenue by some $360,000, a far cry from Essman's October prediction of more than $1 million.

Because of a healthy fund balance, though, the district's bottom line will remain about $17.5 million in the black -- some $2 million more than previously thought.

Essman made a point of saying the board should not wait too long to begin talking about generating revenue. In fact, he recommended the district start forming a committee to explore the issue either in the fall of 2013 or by the spring of 2014.

Most of the savings, reducing the $1 million prediction, came in the form of a quicker-than-expected recovery in the local economy, a decrease in staffing because of enrollment and a two-year pay freeze for teachers, Essman said.

Several board members applauded the district for its fiscal responsibility.

"As a school district, we have tried to hold the line," Essman said.

According to Essman, Bexley has traditionally gone to voters every three years, asking for additional revenue. In a handout to board members, he pointed out that the district has gone beyond its promise on several occasions, often extending a levy an additional year.

In 2004, the district promised voters it would stay off the ballot for five years, but remained off for six. And that may be the case following the community's most recent levy, passed in 2010.

Board members had previously agreed the district would likely return to voters for additional funding in order to stay afloat in 2013, but Essman said that's not the case.

Whether the district can extend the most recent levy cycle by another one or two years is still unknown.

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