Last month, the Westerville City School District filed its updated Five-Year Financial Forecast with the state of Ohio.
I'm pleased to share with residents that this forecast indicates an additional year of financial stability with the district maintaining a cash balance of $70.85 million for Fiscal Year 2022.
Our latest forecast also reflects nearly a $1 million decrease in actual expenditures for FY17 as compared to prior projections. We were forecasting $163.35 million in general fund expenditures last year, but at the close of the fiscal year, actual expenditures were $162.40 million. This savings has a compounding effect, which means future expenditure projections are now lower than anticipated in prior forecasts.
Contributing to our financial health is a $2.18 million increase in revenue over prior projections for FY17. We experienced this increase due to slightly higher state funding, receipt of a federal grant and increases to other revenue and financing sources.
Revenue projections in subsequent fiscal years reflect the positive impact of this revenue increase.
Our strong financial practices have allowed us to reduce school-related costs for families while rebuilding programs and services from significant budget reductions five years ago. We continue to maintain a $19 million reserve fund, which is good fiscal stewardship and covers approximately 45 days of operating costs to address any unforeseen financial crises.
As legislators continue discussions about state funding, we continue to take a conservative approach to estimates beyond FY19.
By projecting conservatively, if funding is better than anticipated, our financial picture improves. Should state revenue end up lower than anticipated, we're better able to manage the impact.
Due to Ohio's funding formula, school districts typically operate on a deficit-spending model. Much earlier forecasts indicated Westerville schools would begin deficit spending as soon as FY16. However, last May we projected deficit spending would be delayed until FY19.
In our latest forecast, we expect to avoid deficit spending until at least FY20 and have slowed the rate of deficit spending by approximately $3.8 million.
Our forecast continues to reflect the elimination of the district's 30-year-old "Win-Win" agreement with Columbus City Schools.
No payments will be made to Columbus after FY21 and there will be no property transfers in either direction as part of the phase-out agreement.
Efforts to stabilize and stretch our finances have been recognized nationally as Moody's Investors Service recently upgraded our bond rating from Aa2 to Aa1, the second highest possible ranking. We join an elite group of just 20 school districts in Ohio with the distinction of receiving the highest or second highest standing from Moody's.
If we ever borrow money, the interest rate should be cheaper because of this rating, thereby saving money for our taxpayers.
Our efforts have been noted at the state level, too.
Our district earned its fifth consecutive Ohio Auditor of State Award with Distinction, which recognizes entities that file an annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and meet certain financial reporting standards. Entities also must receive a "clean" audit report, which means no findings for recovery, material citations, material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, Single Audit findings or any questioned costs.
We're proud of these achievements and appreciate the community's continued support of our schools.
The latest financial forecast and other board action items are available on the district's website, wcsoh.org. Simply visit the Treasurer/Fiscal Services page under "Our Departments" or navigate to BoardDocs via the Board of Education page.
Board meetings are broadcast on WOCC-TV, while an archive of meetings and select presentations is available on the district's YouTube page, youtube.com/WCSDOhio.
Bart Griffith is treasurer and CFO of the Westerville City School District, which provides School notes to ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion.