The Westerville Board of Education mulled over a possible plan Monday night that would keep the district from being placed in fiscal caution status by the state.

The Westerville Board of Education mulled over a possible plan Monday night that would keep the district from being placed in fiscal caution status by the state.

Treasurer Scott Gooding said because the district's financial forecast currently shows a deficit fund balance for fiscal year 2011, the district must submit a plan to the Ohio Department of Education that would resolve that.

Such a plan would typically need to be submitted to the ODE by Jan. 30, but Gooding said he spoke to department representatives who indicated the district could have more time.

"(The ODE) is willing to grant a 30-day extension, which we'll use to gather more community input," Gooding said.

The plan considered by the board includes placing a combined issue on the May 5 ballot, but also includes a backup plan for more than $4-million in budget cuts, should the issue be rejected.

Proposed cuts include:

Administration: $453,102

Certified personnel: $1,562,274

Classified personnel: $930,630

Extracurricular activities: $667,000

Facilities: $196,661

Transportation: $228,000

Even with the cuts, an additional $8-million in reductions would need to be implemented for the 2010-2011 school year if additional funds are not secured, according to the plan.

Plans for the combined issue on the May ballot, according to Gooding, include a new 9.9-mill operating levy for a continuing period of time to begin collections in calendar year 2010, a renewal of the expiring 2.7-mill capital improvement levy at no new millage, and a $36-million bond issue, again for no new millage.

"We're required to put forth a plan to have a balanced budget, and there is an opportunity to make changes to that plan," Superintendent Dan Good said. "We will have a chance to modify those plans, but right now, we have to submit something that addresses that deficit."

Board President Kevin Hoffman said the figures and the staff's presentation of the plan have made it clear to him that the district must seek additional funds.

"This leaves me no doubt about the need that exists here," Hoffman said. "I also appreciate the thoughtful way the capital improvements and bond issue have been structured with no additional cost to the community. I'm very comfortable with what needs to be done -- from my standpoint, now the question isn't 'if,' it's now 'how' and 'when.'"

According to Gooding, a district placed in fiscal caution must submit a written proposal that eliminates the conditions that led to that declaration. The ODE then monitors the district to ensure implementation of the proposal and may conduct a performance audit on the district.

If a district doesn't comply with its proposal, it may then be placed on fiscal watch, and finally, fiscal emergency.

Board member Kristi Robbins emphasized that the board was not implementing the specific cuts but was only discussing them in order to have some sort of concrete plan.

"This is a contingency plan that we've talked about," Robbins said. "These are not cuts; we're not voting to initiate these as cuts. This is to say to the (ODE) that we've looked at our budget, and should we not pass a levy, this is our best bet as to how we would address needed cuts."

Hoffman said the board intends to gather more community input before taking a vote on a resolution for a May ballot issue. The board has scheduled a town meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the Westerville North High School media center, 950 County Line Road.

Hoffman said his intention is to again discuss the resolution at the board's regular meeting Feb. 9.