The Canal Winchester Times

Good news, bad news

Report card score tempered by financial forecast

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Good news about the Canal Winchester Local School District's latest ranking on the state report card was offset last week by a financial forecast that predicts increasing budget deficits over the next few years.

Superintendent Kimberley Miller-Smith told the board of education Oct. 15 the district earned an "excellent" rating, according to the latest preliminary report card information issued by the Ohio Department of Education, meeting 25 of 26 performance indicators.

"We are pleased with our 'excellent' rating," she said. "The only goal we ever go for is 'excellent with distinction' and we're disappointed that did not occur; however, we are meeting student needs in the district and we are working for all of our students to achieve at the highest level."

At that same meeting, Treasurer Joyce Boyer provided the board with a five-year financial forecast that shows a budget deficit of $382,000 in fiscal year 2014, $4.7 million in FY 2015, $8.6 million in FY 2016 and $9.8 million in FY 2017.

Districts are required to file five-year forecasts with the Ohio Department of Education twice a year.

The latest figures assume there will be no additional staff hired through fiscal year 2017, no base salary increases through 2012-2013 school years, a slight increase in base salaries for subsequent years of the forecast, and slight step increments built into the negotiated salary schedule, Boyer said.

The forecast also anticipates the elimination of funding from the Ed Jobs program; increases in purchased services up to 2 percent; and annual increases for the purchases of supplies and equipment.

In terms of revenue, Boyer projects that property values will decrease when the Fairfield County Auditor's Office completes its re-evaluation of property and that will affect 2013 tax collections. She also anticipates that property values will increase slightly after 2013 due to re-evaluations and biennial updates completed by the auditors of Franklin and Fairfield counties.

However, she said these changes will have little impact on overall tax dollars the school district takes in, since the effective millage rate for tax collections "is adjusted to ensure that the district does not receive additions or decreases in funding" when changes occur.

The projections also incorporate funds from the emergency levy that was passed last November and will affect collections through calendar year 2014 and fiscal year 2015; the elimination of income from the state's tangible personal property tax; an increase in revenue from income taxes; and the receipt of the same amount of total dollars in state funding through FY 2017.

As for the report card, according to the data released last week, the Canal Winchester district scored significantly higher on passage rates for almost all of the standard indicators for grades three through 11, plus attendance rates and graduation rates.

The only indicator that the district fell short on was fifth-grade mathematics. The state standard for proficient is 75 percent; 70.5 percent of Canal Winchester students passed that portion of the exam.

"In the future generation of assessment, only those students scoring advanced and accelerated are going to pass the new tests," Miller-Smith said.

"Our 50.6 percent of students in the advanced and accelerated area doesn't bode well for the district or our students," she added.

The report card also measures how the district performs in student subgroups. The only CWLSD subgroup, which consists of approximately 400 students, that has not met the criteria the last three years is students with disabilities.

The value-added rating concerns two schools in the district, Miller-Smith said - Winchester Trail Elementary and the middle school - because it only applies to third through eighth grades.

While those two schools met the bar, statistics worked against the district, she said.

"The statistical issue is, the larger your population, the smaller your standard error," Miller-Smith said. "What caused us to lose value added to be met was seven-hundredths of a point."

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