South-Western City Schools board of education members on Oct. 26 approved a five-year financial forecast running through fiscal year 2014.

South-Western City Schools board of education members on Oct. 26 approved a five-year financial forecast running through fiscal year 2014.

District treasurer Hugh Garside said after the meeting that if the district's permanent 7.4-mill operating levy passes on Nov. 3, he'll prepare an amended forecast for the five years ending with fiscal year 2014 and present that to the board in December.

Without levy approval, the district faces a $34-million deficit by fiscal year 2012, when Garside said it would be placed in fiscal emergency by the state. If that happens, state officials would require South-Western to implement a financial recovery plan as well as have its finances governed by a state-appointed commission.

Board members, already familiar with the district's financial woes, had few questions for Garside prior to voting on the five-year forecast.

Also at the meeting, Lois Rapp, assistant superintendent of curriculum, gave a update on House Bill 1.

The plan, promoted by Gov. Ted Strickland, would make sweeping changes in school funding and other areas such as requiring all-day, every-day kindergarten, changing curriculum and reducing class sizes.

"This would have a huge implication for our district," Rapp said of the kindergarten requirement scheduled to begin with the 2010-11 school year. "Right now, we don't have enough space."

A number of districts around Ohio are calling on the state to delay the kindergarten requirement for a year to give them more time to prepare. Rapp told board members that a delay would certainly help South-Western because additional money would be needed for all-day, every-day kindergarten.

Though all districts will be required to offer all-day kindergarten in the coming years, parents still will have the option to send their children for half-day classes.

According to the new state biennium budget, all-day kindergarten students will be funded as full-time equivalent students. Currently, kindergarten students are funded at half the amount.

The Ohio Department of Education has been given the authority to make many of the rules for the new school-funding system.

Superintendent Bill Wise praised the overall intent of the reform plan but added that a lot of discussion still is needed.

"So much of this (plan) is yet to be defined," Wise said. "(It's) a monumental opportunity for change ... across the state of Ohio."

On another matter, Wise told the board that because of having to drop sports after the August levy failure, officials with the Ohio Capital Conference will be vote next month on dropping the district's membership for the next two years if the Nov. 3 levy loses.

"The Ohio Capital Conference has been put in an awkward position without our participation (in fall sports)," he said. "They have a re-alignment plan that does not include us for the next two years."

Voters have rejected a number of levy requests in the past few years, including an 8.3-mill levy that lost by 546 votes in a special election on Aug. 4.

Levy opponents have criticized district operations and spending and contend that more cuts can be made. School officials and levy supporters say South-Western is operating on a bare-bones budget.

-- Gail Martineau contributed to this story