Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington Schools Treasurer: District's finances are 'very sustainable'

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Thanks in part to a bump in funding from the Ohio General Assembly, the Pickerington Local School District is on solid financial ground for the near future, the district's treasurer said recently.

District Treasurer Ryan Jenkins earlier this month said changes to the state's school-funding formula which identify Pickerington as "poorer" are financially advantageous to the district.

During a five-year forecast presentation at the Pickerington Board of Education's Oct. 14 meeting, Jenkins said the new state funding formula relies on a per-pupil property valuation that ranks a district with all other districts in the state.

"In Pickerington's case, the district has a rather low per-pupil property valuation index," Jenkins stated in his forecast report to board members.

"For the current fiscal year, for example, the per-pupil valuation for PLSD is $109,087, while the state average is $140,051," he said.

Because Pickerington's valuation/wealth index of 0.7789 is below the state average of 1.0, Jenkins said, the state formula considers Pickerington "poorer."

Therefore, he noted, the state has provided about $44 million in funding this year, and the district will receive approximately $44.7 million in state funding next year.

"We're actually being funded as far as the formula will fund us," he said.

The state's funding represents approximately 43.5 percent of the PLSD's operating revenue, according to Jenkins.

Although the current funding levels only bring the district back to pace with what it received in 2009, Jenkins said the new formula, coupled with the district's share of casino revenues and the spending plans developed by the school board and district administrators, means the district should be "very sustainable" for at least the next three years.

"For Pickerington, the new funding formula is a very good friend," he said.

Jenkins said for the foreseeable future, it appears student enrollment in the district has leveled off from the growth it saw 10 to 15 years ago, which also will help the district meet costs.

"This is encouraging," board member Lisa Reade said. "We usually take it on the chin with the state budget."

Jenkins' longer-term projections do show the district facing revenue shortfalls by fiscal year 2017.

According to his report, the district will have approximately $104.2 million in revenue in fiscal year 2017 and $105.8 million in expenditures.

In fiscal year 2018, Jenkins projects the district's revenue will be about $104.8 million vs. $109.1 million in expenditures.

However, he said those projected shortfalls shouldn't be cause for significant concern at the moment.

That's primarily because the district currently has a cash balance, or "rainy day" fund, Jenkins said.

According to data provided by Jenkins' office, the district currently has a cash balance of approximately $17.5 million.

That balance is projected to be about $22.3 million in fiscal year 2017 and approximately $17.9 million in fiscal year 2018.

"Regardless of the fact we are overspending (in fiscal years 2017 and 2018), with our cash balance, if we work, we can sustain it," Jenkins said.

Additional information about the district's five-year financial forecast is available on its website, pickerington.k12.oh.us.

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