The Olentangy school district plans to freeze administrators' pay and seek wage concessions from its union members in a bid to close a projected $4.7-million budget gap in fiscal year 2011.

The Olentangy school district plans to freeze administrators' pay and seek wage concessions from its union members in a bid to close a projected $4.7-million budget gap in fiscal year 2011.

It also will benefit from steady energy prices.

Assistant school district treasurer Todd Johnson told the school board Jan. 27 that based on the first half of the school year, the district expects to spend $350,000 less on natural gas and about $155,000 less on fuel for the year.

Johnson said energy cost increases - which were figured into the original 2010 budget - have not occurred as anticipated.

An additional budget savings of about $200,000 will be indicated in the five-year financial forecast presented to the board in May. That money represents a decision by the district's 79 administrators, including superintendent Wade Lucas and treasurer Becky Jenkins, to forego raises this year.

Both Lucas and Jenkins said before the meeting that they and others also will not receive any bonuses, as has happened in some other districts where administrators declined raises.

Lucas said district officials are in discussions with unions representing teachers and other district workers to see if any wage concessions can be reached. He said he could not comment in detail about those discussions, but said it's apparent to him that all employees in the district want to see Olentangy weather these difficult financial times.

In the past two years, the district has cut about $12.7-million from its budgets.

Board member Scott Galloway said he is concerned about how much state money the district will continue to receive.

The board has projected that basic state aid will rise from $5.3-million in fiscal 2010 to $5.9-million in fiscal 2014.

"The state budget is full of holes," Galloway said. "I'm really uncomfortable with the revenue forecast we have for our state funds."

Jenkins said that is a valid concern and noted the district is taking a fairly conservative approach to what it might receive, considering the uncertainty in state funding levels.

Galloway said he wanted to ensure district officials remain mindful of the situation, so budget problems don't crop up down the road.

The board also approved two state-mandated requirements, one to take effect next school year and the other in 2014.

The board approved a credit flexibility policy that will allow some students who are proficient in a given subject to test out of that subject the following school year. The state also is requiring districts to have students take four math credits to graduate beginning in 2014. Olentangy currently requires three credits, in line with state requirements.

Lucas told board members about 75 percent of students already take four math credits, so the transition should be smooth.

Lucas and board President Julie Wagner-Feasel encouraged residents to consider joining various volunteer committees in the district.

"One of the positive things about Olentangy is we have so many volunteers," Lucas said before the meeting.

Positions are available on several board and superintendent committees. Interested residents can check the district Web site for more information.