New Albany News

Ballot Issue 50

Domine: Levy would prevent deficit for two fiscal years


New Albany-Plain Local Superintendent April Domine told the school board last week if voters reject Issue 50 in November, the district will face a $4.8 million deficit in 2015 and 250 more students will be taught in modular classrooms.

Issue 50 is the district's combined operating levy and bond issue.

The 2.59-mill bond issue would generate $45.1 million and be used to construct a building for 1,200 students, with $11.4 million for site improvements. The 4.24-mill continuous levy would generate $3.5 million to help prevent the deficit in 2015.

The cost to property owners would be $209.24 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Domine said the district has called the operating levy request a "two-year levy" because it would prevent a deficit only the next two fiscal years.

It would require the district to go back to the ballot in 2014, at which time district officials hope to further prove fiscal responsibility to voters.

If a new building were not opened in fiscal year 2015, the district would have to use more modular units as classrooms, Domine said. The district is over capacity in three of its four buildings, with growth estimated to continue by about 100 students or more annually.

Domine said the district reduced expenditures in 2011 by $600,000 and reduced the 2012 budget by $2.6 million.

In 2011, the local teachers and school employees unions renegotiated their contracts with the district a year early, which resulted in reduced salary increases and capped benefits costs. The district also instituted a salary freeze for administrative staff members

Figures presented to the school board Sept. 10 show the district had a 0.93 percent increase in actual expenditures from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012. Fiscal year 2011 expenditures were $50,655,064 and fiscal year 2012 expenditures were $51,127,679.

"I know that's the lowest increase we've had in years," said board member Mark Ryan. "It's a credit to the administrative team, the (union) association leadership and staff. They changed the way they budget, they changed their assumptions and the way they think. It's not accidental, it's a conscious effort."

In other business Sept. 10, Domine updated board members on the district's academic progress with information released by the Ohio Department of Education in its preliminary state report cards and data collected by the district.

More students are enrolled in advanced mathematics classes in grades 5-8, and 802 students are enrolled in Advanced Placement classes at New Albany High School, she said.

Typically at this time of year, the district uses its official state report card results to show academic achievements from the past school year.

But in August, the State Board of Education delayed release of the report cards while the ODE investigated three school districts for alleged attendance-data manipulation. The ODE is working with State Auditor David Yost to investigate the allegations of false reporting against the Columbus, Toledo and Lockland school districts.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously Sept. 11 to release stripped-down versions of the report cards, but much of the data will be held back, including attendance figures, performance index scores and overall ratings, said John Charlton, spokesman for the ODE.

The final version likely will not be released until the investigation concludes.