Westerville City Schools should plan for the worst and hope for the best in its five-year financial forecast, district treasurer Scott Gooding told the board of education at its April 26 meeting.

Westerville City Schools should plan for the worst and hope for the best in its five-year financial forecast, district treasurer Scott Gooding told the board of education at its April 26 meeting.

Gooding suggested the district's five-year forecast be amended to take into consideration two factors that could have a negative impact on the budget beginning in fiscal year 2012.

The disappearance of stimulus funds and the additional expense of all-day kindergarten, a state mandate, would cut the district's cash balance at the end of 2011-2012 to $400,000 against a general fund budget that is projected to exceed $157-million, he said.

Currently, about $2-million of the district's $33.8-million from state foundation funds come from federal stimulus money. Though there has been talk of another stimulus payment, it might be wise to assume that those funds will disappear, Gooding said.

"It would probably be in our best interest to remove that from the budget for 2012," he said.

That would reduce state foundation funds from the previously projected $32-million to about $30-million, he said.

In addition, Gooding said the current five-year forecast does not include expenses for implementing all-day kindergarten, which was mandated by a state law passed last year. Ohio districts must offer all-day kindergarten starting in 2010-11 unless they apply for a waiver to allow them to delay until 2011-12.

Westerville did apply for the waiver earlier this year, Gooding said, but there's no guarantee the district will be able to apply for one again next year.

"We were projecting an additional 20 full-time employees to come in to accommodate that for fiscal year 2012, so we're recommending to include that as part of our projections," Gooding said.

Those 20 teachers would cost Westerville about $1.5-million, he said.

Gooding said he knows of only two central Ohio districts that have not factored all-day kindergarten into their budgets for 2012: Delaware and South-Western City Schools.

Board member Cindy Crowe expressed frustration with the all-day kindergarten mandate.

"I just want to make it very clear that I support all-kindergarten ... but I'm very, very concerned about the costs related to the implementation of it," she said.

Crowe asked that the board and administration continue to lobby state legislators, either for additional funding to help pay for the additional staff needed or for gradual implementation so the district can plan for other ways to fund it.

"We need to get a handle on these finances before we implement it," she said. "We didn't plan for this when we passed our last levy."

Board member Denise Pope said the board should plan as if no additional funds are coming Westerville's way.

"At this point, if it's law, it's law," Pope said.

Superintendent Dan Good pointed out that the law requiring all-day kindergarten ties that mandate to state funding, and to break that law would likely mean foregoing some or all state funding.

Gooding said he would present a resolution to amend the five-year forecast at the board's next regular meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. May 24 at Fouse Elementary School, 5800 S. Old 3C Highway.