New Albany News

Five-year forecast: Deficit begins in 2016

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The New Albany-Plain Local school board on May 19 unanimously approved the district's update of its five-year forecast.

That forecast estimates a $6.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2016.

The five-year forecast is a financial projection of the district's finances for the next five years. Ohio law requires school boards to approve a five-year forecast prior to Oct. 31 each year and update it between April 1 and May 31.

The school board and the financial review and reporting committee reviewed several versions of the forecast, all of which estimated a deficit of at least $5 million by fiscal year 2016.

District officials are considering two levy requests for the November general-election ballot.

School board members said May 5 the district could pursue a two-year, 6-mill operating levy and a 2-mill permanent-improvements levy. Board members did not specify a potential term for the permanent-improvements levy.

The school board did not vote on a levy structure May 19.

Board President Mark Ryan said the forecast does not include cuts, since the district has not heard from residents that cuts are needed.

Ryan said the forecast allows the district to continue programs and move forward in accomplishing the district's mission and its goals.

The forecast the board approved includes a 1 percent salary increase for all staff members in fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018 and includes annual expenses of $350,000 on buses and $200,000 on technology.

Board member Laura Kohler said she is comfortable with a staff increase based on performance and achievement, as opposed to a cost-of-living increase.

"We will work together with our association to come up with some kind of program that recognizes superior performance and achievement," Kohler said.

Board members discussed removing bus and technology funding from the forecast because those costs typically are paid through a permanent-improvements levy. The district's last permanent-improvements levy expired in December 2009 and the permanent-improvements fund is down to $120,000, according to Rebecca Jenkins, district treasurer.

Kohler said it is important for the forecast to include some permanent improvements costs.

The forecast includes the addition of several teaching positions in fiscal year 2015: one middle school math teacher; two special-education teachers, one for the high school and one shared by the high school and middle schools; one teacher for English-limited learners; and part-time positions for middle school math, middle school and high school Mandarin Chinese, high school math, high school wellness and special education.

The forecast also includes funding for one elementary assistant principal and increases the gifted coordinator's position to full-time in fiscal year 2015.

New classified positions for fiscal year 2015, most of which are being added for the 2-8 building that will open in a limited capacity in August, include: two custodians to work in the new building; two bus drivers for two new bus routes; one office worker for the new building; one education assistant for special education; and a part-time worker for the technology department office.

Several positions recommended for fiscal year 2015 will not be funded, according to the approved forecast: one second-grade teacher, requested to reduce class sizes; one math-intervention teacher; one high school counselor; one middle school gifted teacher; and one middle school athletics director, which would change the position to full-time.

Future years of the forecast include the addition of eight teachers, one administrator and six classified personnel in fiscal year 2016 and eight teachers and six classified personnel for fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

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