New Albany News

New Albany schools

Increasing enrollment, costs muddle five-year outlook

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The New Albany-Plain Local School District's financial review and reporting committee last week reviewed figures for the district's next five-year forecast.

The forecast details estimated revenue and expenditures for the next five years. Ohio law requires school districts to approve a five-year forecast prior to Oct. 31 and update it between April 1 and May 31 each year.

The district considers a number of factors when calculating its revenue and expense estimates.

On Dec. 3, FRRC members looked at the district's most recent enrollment projections, estimates on revenue received from the city of New Albany through an income-tax revenue-sharing agreement and per-pupil instruction costs.

Enrollment projections for the 2013-14 school year prepared by DeJong-Healy, a Dublin-based consulting firm, show the district can expect to add 167 new students to its enrollment.

Ken Stark, the district's director of operations, said Dejong-Healy's enrollment projections have been within 1 percent of the actual figures for the past three years.

Last year, Dejong-Healy estimated the district would have 4,617 students in the 2012-13 school year; the actual count is 4,647 students.

Stark said the most difficult grade to predict is kindergarten because the company must review birth records and estimate how many births will occur in the area. He said Dejong-Healy estimates enrollment 10 years out, so the company doesn't increase the number of kindergarten students to be added after the fourth year of estimates because the data is not available.

Dejong-Healy has increased its estimate for the total enrollment by the 2022-23 school year to 5,514, an increase of 110 students from the 5,404 estimated in last year's report.

Regarding shared revenue, New Albany pays the district 35 percent of the income-tax revenue collected from new businesses in the city's business parks to make up for property-tax revenue lost when the companies receive property-tax abatements.

Peg Betts, the district's interim treasurer, said the shared revenue peaked at $4 million in 2008 and was down to $3 million in 2011.

The city has estimated it will be able to share a little more than $3 million in 2013.

Betts agreed to put together a reporting system to better explain how and when the district receives the income-tax funds.

FRRC members also reviewed the district's per-pupil instruction cost, which decreased slightly in fiscal year 2012 to $12,101; the cost was calculated at $12,249 in fiscal year 2011.

Betts also provided FRRC members with a history of per-pupil costs going back to fiscal year 1995, when the district spent $6,527 per pupil.

Joe Armpriester, the teachers union representative to the FRRC, reminded the committee also to look at the future of teacher salaries, which could change after January when recently approved pension reform legislation -- Ohio Senate Bill 342 -- takes effect.

He said the changes to the State Teachers Retirement System will require teachers to be at least 60 years old to retire and have completed 35 years of service. It also increases the employee's pension contribution.

Armpriester said a large number of teachers are expected to retire to avoid being held to the new standards, which require teachers to work longer before being able to retire.

Committee member Phil Derrow asked if there is a way to anticipate those salary costs and the costs of adding a new building and associated staff in the fall of 2014. Voters in November approved Issue 50, which included a 2.59-mill bond issue to pay for a new non-grade specific building for 1,200 students.

Betts said she would have that information for the committee in January, although she will not attend the meeting. Betts' interim contract expires Dec. 31, and district officials expect to have a new treasurer by then.

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