After several weeks of reviewing the New Albany-Plain Local School District budget with members of the district's financial review and reporting committee, the school board on Oct. 25 approved the district's five-year financial forecast.

After several weeks of reviewing the New Albany-Plain Local School District budget with members of the district's financial review and reporting committee, the school board on Oct. 25 approved the district's five-year financial forecast.

The first draft of the five-year forecast showed a smaller carryover and a negative balance of $1.2-million by fiscal year 2014. By changing assumptions and freezing expenses for services, materials, capital outlay and other expenditures to the anticipated 2011 costs, the approved forecast shows a positive cash balance for fiscal year 2014 with a positive cash.

Board vice president Laura Kohler said freezing expenditures other than salaries and benefits would help the district maintain a larger cash carryover and keep district off the ballot longer.

"We knew we needed to make changes and significantly reduce the rate of increase in cost per pupil," Kohler said. "It will extend the time we have to go before voters."

Kohler did admit that the district recognizes it will have to ask voters for more money eventually because of the way Ohio funds schools.

District officials also committed to save $500,000 this fiscal year by changing the way the district budgets.

During the Oct. 18 financial review and reporting committee meeting, district officials agreed not to spend any savings incurred this year. In the past, if money were saved on staffing, it was used for programming or for some other expenditure, according to Madeline Partlow, the district's director of teaching and learning.

The board thanked the members of the financial review and reporting committee for helping the district to change its budgeting process and for suggesting future changes. The district plans to hire an outside consultant to provide financial comparisons with similar districts, and district officials plan to complete an internal analysis of expenses. Administrators have agreed to report findings regularly to the financial review and reporting committee, and the committee, the board and administrators will review the five-year forecast again in May 2011.

The only changes made to the forecast during the meeting were suggested by board president Mark Ryan. He asked district treasurer Brian Ramsay to take out references to the financial review and reporting committee. He said once the forecast is approved by the board, it becomes a district directive and should be followed as such. Ramsay agreed to make the changes before submitting the forecast to the Ohio Department of Education before Oct. 30, as required by state law.