Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard schools

District officials talk budget at two-day retreat


Technology upgrades, efficient transportation and wellness programs designed to limit increases in the number of Hilliard school district medical claims were among the subjects discussed last week during a two-day planning retreat for district officials.

Board members and administrators met Thursday evening, Sept. 27, and Friday, Sept. 28, to discuss the accomplishments of the district, where it has been and where they want it to go.

Treasurer Brian Wilson presented the proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which board members unanimously adopted.

The total budget for the district for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, is $230.7 million.

Of that amount, 72 percent, or $165.5 million, is general fund revenue.

The remainder of the budget is composed of proprietary funds (11 percent), debt service funds (9 percent), special revenue funds (5 percent) and capital project funds (3 percent).

Revenue from the state of Ohio continues to decrease, Wilson told board members.

The general fund revenue of $165.5 million for fiscal year 2013 comes from two sources: $52.4 million is from state revenue, while $113.1 million comes from local revenue .

The amount of state revenue dropped from $54.4 million in fiscal year 2012 to $52.4 million for the current fiscal year, Wilson said. But local revenue grew from $105.1 million in fiscal year 2012 to $113.1 million for the current fiscal year.

The loss of state funding is attributed to the continued rollback of tangible personal property tax reimbursements, a tax the state of Ohio has phased out, Wilson said.

Hilliard schools received $6 million this fiscal year in such reimbursements, compared to $9 million in fiscal year 2012, according to Wilson.

Superintendent Dale McVey said the district remains in contact with state Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) in efforts to persuade the state to make few cuts as possible to public school funding.

Within local revenue sources, the district estimates receipts from real-estate tax revenue in the amount of $104 million for the current fiscal year, up from $95.8 million in fiscal year 2012 by virtue of an operating levy voters narrowly approved last year.

Most other local revenue sources are being collected at nearly equal amounts, but interest earnings continue to fall.

The district budgeted about $150,000 in interest revenue for the current fiscal year, down from $180,000 the previous year.

"There was a time when we were getting $1.5 million in interest revenue," Wilson said.

General fund revenue per pupil reached $10,544 per student for the current fiscal year. General fund expenses per pupil are $10,580. Those expenses include instructional, administrative and operational costs associated with each student.

While school foundation aid and state reimbursement revenue either flatlined or shrank, the amount of local revenue fund per pupil increased, according to Wilson's presentation.

He told board members about significant changes in the current fiscal budget, including an estimated 15-percent increase in health-care costs beginning Jan. 1.

"Claims have increased significantly," Wilson said, adding that health-care costs for the district amount to about $2 million annually.

Debbie Youngblood, human resources coordinator, outlined the district's wellness plan, including voluntary biometric screenings and a "Get Active" program, all designed to reduce not only the direct costs of health insurance such as physician visitations and prescriptions, but "indirect costs" such as increased absenteeism.

Wilson said the district lost about $3 million this year in state tangible personal-property tax revenue, but saved about $1 million through staffing attrition.

The district gained almost $6 million in new revenue this year from the latest operating levy, he said.

In other discussions, Terry Timlin, director of transportation, outlined the district's transportation operations. The district transports 9,185 students daily and its 156 buses collectively log 8,240 miles each day, Timlin said.

Consolidated stops have saved the district money, but also generated calls from parents, he said.

"Some parents call to say the stop is too far away. ... We try to be empathetic, but we need to keep a schedule," he said.

The state requires that students who live two or more miles away from a building to be bused; Hilliard uses 1.5 miles as its walk limit.

Fuel costs remain an unpredictable factor, Timlin said.