Reynoldsburg News

Reynoldsburg schools

New 5-year forecast shows improved finances

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Reynoldsburg City Schools' financial outlook appears brighter on the new five-year forecast, reflecting increased revenue and fund balances when compared to last October's figures.

Treasurer Tami Miller presented the new five-year financial forecast to school board members for approval May 21.

The October 2012 forecast showed a deficit of about $1.4 million projected by the end of fiscal year 2017, whereas the new forecast shows a projected fund balance of $4,698,525 for that year.

Projected fund balances were higher all around on the new forecast, beginning with this year's fiscal year-end balance of about $9.2 million, compared to $7.8 million in October. The fiscal year ends in June.

Balances in 2015 and 2016 are estimated to come in around $11.1 million and $9.1 million, respectively -- about $4 million to $5 million more than estimated in October.

"The increase in the projected fund balances are mainly on the revenue side," Miller said. "We had increased enrollment, both residential and open; we received casino revenue for the first time and we received additional TIF (tax incremental financing) payments from the city for back TIF payments due to companies making their delinquent payments."

Miller said the school district also had a $200,000 increase in state funding because of a change in per pupil allocations.

She said the "bridge formula" the state is using for this year means the Reynoldsburg district received additional funding because of increased enrollment, a decrease in per pupil charge-offs and fewer students choosing special education scholarships.

State funding was left flat on the forecast for fiscal years 2014-2017, however, since the state is still working on a new funding model, Miller wrote in the assumptions to the new forecast.

Tricia Moore, director of shared services and partnerships, said the district's outlook has generally improved in recent years for three main reasons.

"Fair negotiated contracts with staff that curbed automatic pay increases and reduced the district's costs for health coverage; open enrollment, which generated about $1 million in revenue this year and also careful attention to spending," she said.

"The district has continued to reduce costs through attrition each year since the levy was approved," Moore said.

Voters approved a 6.9-mill incremental operating levy in May 2010. The levy will increase by 1 mill each year until it reaches 9.9 mills in January 2014.

In her forecast assumptions, Miller said a three-year contract negotiated with staff members last year will cost the district $8 million less over the next three years than if the previous contract terms had remained in effect. She said base salaries are frozen for the duration of the contract. Step increases were awarded in the first year of the contract, then frozen for two years. Cost of living increases -- 2 percent in the first year and 1 percent in the second year -- apply only to staff members who do not receive step increases and are frozen in year three of the contract.

Expenditures in the new forecast do not begin to exceed projected revenue until the end of fiscal year 2016, when revenue is predicted to be $59,784,866 and expenditures are projected to be $61,805,574. The estimated carryover cash balance prevents a deficit that year, with the ending fund balance predicted to be $9,174,156.

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