Increased enrollment, funding cuts prompt tax request
After a combined $25-million bond issue and 7.2-mill operating levy was rejected by voters last fall, Dublin City School District officials went back to the drawing board.
After talking to residents and making cuts, the district will be back before voters Nov. 6 with a combined 6.94-mill tax issue.
Issue 48 is a combined $15.87-million bond issue and 6.4-mill operating levy that would cost residents within the district an additional $213 per $100,000 home value annually.
"We really spent time listening to constituents since the levy and tried to make adjustments we've heard on the issue," said Stephen Osborne, district treasurer.
"This is a smaller dollar amount," he said.
"We've made $15 million in reductions since 2007 so we continue to try to maintain expenses and continue to find efficiencies and provide excellent services for our students."
The district has said Issue 48 will fund the district through the 2016 fiscal year, although Osborne said uncertainties in state funding could change things.
"We're anticipating there will be more cuts in the future because one of the big uncertainties out there right now in the new funding formula that will be introduced by the governor when the new legislature reconvenes in January and February," he said.
Reductions to state funding would be handled with more cuts within the district, Osborne said.
"We will handle that if there are reductions," he said.
"We're working with legislators to minimize the effects on our district and if we have to adjust our budget we will as we did last time," he said.
In the past several years the district has had to deal with the acceleration of the phasing out of the tangible-personal-property tax, or TPPT, reimbursements and reductions to basic state aid, Osborne said.
"From 2007 we're down $8.5 million per year in total state funding right now," he said.
"When we look at that, $5.2 million is TPPT reimbursements. Another is $2.3 million in basic state aid."
While state funding was falling, enrollment was growing, Osborne said. The district has added 1,400 students since 2007.
"We're still seeing 250 to 300 students per year with reduced state funding," he said.
According to the 2012 fiscal year five-year forecast, the district expects to bring in $161 million in revenue for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
District spending is anticipated to eclipse revenue with an estimated $165.6 million in expenditures.
The lion's share of district revenue comes from local sources. The district expects to receive $126.7 million in real estate tax revenue during the 2011-12 fiscal year, which accounts for about 80 of the district's revenue.
Of expenditures in the 2011-12 fiscal year, $112 million are wages for district staff and $38.8 million are fringe benefits. Staffing costs account for about 91 percent of operating costs in 2011.
According to information from the Ohio Department of Education, Dublin City Schools spent $13,014 per pupil in the 2011 fiscal year. Hilliard schools spent $11,399 per pupil during the same year and Westerville spent $10,891.
During the same fiscal year, Upper Arlington schools spent $15,172 per pupil and Columbus City Schools spent $14,967.
"When you look at expenditures per pupil, we're sixth out of 16 schools in Franklin County," Osborne said. "For administrative costs, we are the fifth lowest in the county of the 16 Franklin County schools. We're working very hard to maintain administrative costs, but still provide services expected in our district."
Dublin spent $1,229 on administration per pupil in the 2011 fiscal year. Columbus City Schools spent $1,809 on administration per pupil and Hilliard spent $1,077.
"We continue to work hard to control expenditures in the district. It's a constant focus," Osborne said.
"With enrollment increasing and unfunded mandates, we work as hard as we can to control expenses, but there are some things beyond our control," he said.
District financial information is available online at dublinschools.net/Finance.aspx.