Delaware News

District's financial outlook inches toward optimism

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Delaware City School District leaders say the district is in a slightly better financial position going into the 2013-14 school year than it was one year ago.

With the passage of a 3.6-mill bond issue in May, the district will be able to renovate all of its buildings to resolve overcrowding and ease the burden of increasing enrollment.

However, since the bond issue funds must be used strictly for facilities, the district still must depend on state funding for its operating budget.

Melissa Lee, treasurer and chief financial officer, said the district projects a 4 percent increase in state funding but won't know anything for sure until the Ohio Senate decides on the final state budget.

Based on the budget passed by the Ohio House, the district projected a 6 percent increase in funding to Delaware schools. However, Lee said she has budgeted conservatively for a 4 percent increase.

Gov. John Kasich's formula for school funding showed Delaware schools should receive a 25 percent increase in its overall budget.

However, the House instituted a cap that mandates no district can receive more than 6 percent of the state funding it received in the previous year.

Due to the cap, the district will take in $5.8 million less than the governor's formula says it should receive, district leaders said.

The Senate is working on a mutually agreeable plan or compromise between the proposed budgets of Kasich and the House, Lee said.

She said there are a few aspects of the budget working in the district's favor, such as the 2006 personal tax replacement, which originally was set to be phased out by 2014.

Lee said the state decided to keep the tax, and there is no indication that it will ever really disappear. That puts the district in a position to collect $1.4 million in 2014 that wasn't in initial projections.

The district expects a 14 percent increase in the amount it will pay for insurance due to the new provisions in the federal Affordable Care Act. Although health-care negotiations won't begin until January, other similar districts have experienced a 14 percent increase, Lee said.

"Overall, taking all these items into account, we are in a little bit of a better position than the last year," she said.