The New Albany-Plain Local School District will invite public input this spring on how the schools could continue to save money while maintaining academic quality - and when taxpayers might expect to see a new levy on the ballot, Superintendent April Domine said.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District will invite public input this spring on how the schools could continue to save money while maintaining academic quality - and when taxpayers might expect to see a new levy on the ballot, Superintendent April Domine said.

Domine noted that in 2011, the district reached some of the highest levels of academic achievement ever and enacted $2.8 million in cost containment. In 2011, NA-PLS had the highest number of National Merit scholars in school history, the highest-ever ACT average and the highest percentage of students reaching the college-ready benchmark in all four ACT subjects, Domine said. Overall, the district had the highest performance index of all time on the Ohio Department of Education's annual report card, she said.

While accomplishing these academic highlights, the district reduced expenditures, budgets and hiring.

Most notably, staff members agreed to renegotiate salaries and benefits, resulting in a substantial savings, Domine said.

Unions representing teachers and other staff agreed to a reduction, and administrators have agreed to a pay freeze for the next two to three years.

"There are no increases at all," Domine said.

The district continues to look for ways to save money and increase efficiency, Domine said.

"We are continually working on cost savings," she said.

Because of declining revenue, the district projects a $6.8-million deficit in 2014.

"We're working with our staff and our board to look at how we close that gap," Domine said.

Options on the table include identifying additional cost savings, restructuring work so that positions could remain vacant after staff members resign or retire, reviewing student fees, considering certain pay-to-participate options and looking for new grants and corporate partnerships.

The district also might have to consider staff reductions to avoid a deficit, Domine said.

"We know at some point we are going to have to look at how many positions it will take to close that gap," she said.

Public input will be integral to any cost-saving decisions the district makes, she said.

"We will have public conversations in April at both of our board meetings and our financial review meetings," she said.

Taxpayers also will help the district decide when and in what form to place another levy on the ballot, she said.

"The district promised the public back in 2008 that we would be in a four-year levy cycle," she said. "That will be part of the conversation in April and May."

In the meantime, the district will work diligently to identify ways to save money while maintaining high academic standards, Domine said.

"We make sure our staff are doing everything possible," she said, "and I thank them for the sacrifices they're making."