Finances dominate school board meeting
The new year started for the Marysville Exempted Village School District Board of Education with a vote on officers and a discussion of the budget and potential future levies.
Jeff Mabee was voted in to continue as president while Sue Devine replaced Tracy Greer as vice president at the organizational meeting on Jan. 7.
The board then moved on to a report from district treasurer Cindy Ritter. The district has three levies up for renewal soon. A current 5-mill levy and a 4-mill levy, both of which began in 2009 and run through 2013, and a 6.56-mill levy that began in 2010 and runs through 2014, were the topics of discussion.
Using the current budget forecast, if the renewals pass and there are no reductions in spending, a new 4-mill levy in 2013 would result in a $1.7 million cash balance this year but it continuously drops to a negative cash flow by 2015, ending with a negative $7.1 million in 2017.
A 6-mill levy with the renewals and with no changes in expenditures would give the district a $1.7 million cash balance in 2013 and keep a positive cash balance through 2016 but dwindles to a negative $2.2 million in 2017.
If the three levies are not renewed, there are no changes in expenditures and a 4-mill levy is passed the district ends up with $1.7 million cash balance in 2013 but drops to a negative $35 million in 2017. Even if the district would pass a 6-mill levy this year with no renewals and no changes in expenditures, the district would still end up with a negative $30 million in 2017.
"If those (renewals) do not pass by 2014, we're out of money," said Ritter.
If the district renews the three existing levies, keeps the cuts approved last month, and passes a new 4-mill levy in 2013, it will clear $1.7 million in 2013, $3.1 million in 2014, $4.5 million in 2015, $4.6 million in 2016, and $3.5 million in 2017.
One month of expenditures is $3.5 million for MEVSD.
The board is considering combining at least two of the renewals into a continuing levy, which means it would not have to keep going back to voters every five years. Any combination of the renewals still results in no new taxes for voters; which is something the board realizes it must make abundantly clear in any levy campaign.
To gauge voters' attitudes, the district conducted a telephone survey last month with 400 registered voters in the district.
A summary shows there is a "good deal of support for one combined renewal levy or for two separate renewal levies for the Marysville Schools in May."
But Mabee pointed out a surprising number of people believe the district can make some cuts without affecting the quality of education; 43-percent agreed and 18-percent strongly agreed.
"It seems we're having a difficult time getting our message out there -- that it's going to have this effect. Now we're cutting into our personnel deeper than we ever have. It's going to have an effect," said Mabee.
The board debated how to present the three renewals, if two should be combined and how soon it could go back to the voters for new money.
Board member Amy Powers said many people she had heard from are now fully aware of the desperation of the situation and would vote for renewals and new money right now. The majority of the board, however, felt going for new money now would jeopardize the renewals.
The board is also anxious to see what the Ohio Statehouse does with education money in the budget. Gov. John Kasich presents his budget to the legislature on Feb. 4 but it does not have to be approved until June 30. Once the board sees what the governor's proposal includes and gauges the feedback from the House and the Senate, it hopes to see a clearer picture.
News of the casino payout to school districts in Ohio this week does not affect the anticipated budget.
According to Ritter, MEVSD should receive $111,604.97.
"We had $112,140 in the October forecast; a difference of ($535.03). This makes no change in the budget since we had that included in the forecast," said Ritter.
The plan is for districts to receive payment one time per year, each year by Jan. 31 from the previous year's amount of profit.
The upcoming levy campaign will have a couple of influential volunteers heading up the effort. Chris Schmenk, former Marysville mayor and current director for the Ohio Department of Development, and Kenney Chaffin, former Marysville High School varsity basketball coach and current assistant principal at Worthington McCord Middle School, have stepped up to run the next campaign.
"I think the school board and superintendent are doing a fantastic job communicating. As a parent, I think I've gotten more communication in this past year than I have in a long time. I feel like things are looking better as a whole and we'll see our way out of this," said Schmenk.
The board has to finalize what it wants on the May ballot at the next meeting, set on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.