The Pickerington Local School District still stands to receive fewer state funds next school year, but the decrease may be less than originally feared.

The Pickerington Local School District still stands to receive fewer state funds next school year, but the decrease may be less than originally feared.

If Ohio Gov. John Kasich's proposed two-year budget is approved by state legislators, state funding to the PLSD will decrease by 2.1 percent for the 2011-12 school year.

The action would drop the district's state funding - which accounts for about 51 percent of its annual budget - from approximately $43.8 million in the 2010-11 school year, to approximately $42.9 million in the 2011-12 school year.

However, the drop would be much less than the 13-percent cut district officials expected, due largely to the governor's preference of basing his funding formula on property value per pupil and the number of students who reside in the district.

According to information provided by the district, the PLSD has a "relatively low" per-pupil valuation of $107,595.

"It's much better than we expected, and we're grateful for that," treasurer Dan Griscom said. "It doesn't take away a need for a levy, but I think it will probably prevent deeper cuts for the moment."

In January, the Pickerington Board of Education approved $13 million in cuts to the district's 2011-12 operations budget. The move will result in the elimination of about 100 jobs, including 87 teachers next year.

Since then, the board has considered placing a levy before voters but "no" votes from board president Lisa Reade and member Cathy Olshefski on Jan. 31 prevented the district from moving forward with a 9.5-mill continuing levy in May.

If passed, that levy would have generated approximately $10.14 million in new annual revenue for the district. It also would have cost homeowners an additional $290.94 in annual taxes per $100,000 home valuation.

The board has until May 4 to determine if it will seek an Aug. 2 levy. It also could seek a levy in November.

On March 25, Reade said the board likely will seek a levy this year.

"I think we still need a levy," she said. "I think August will still be the time.

"It's going to be a smarter (levy) number because we'll know what we really need."

The state's two-year budget might not be approved until July, but PLSD officials believe the legislature's final moves will be less damaging to the district.

Under Kasich's proposal, the district's 2.1-percent funding decrease for the 2011-12 school year would be offset by a 2.3-percent increase in funding for 2012-13.

However, district officials noted that even if Pickerington schools receive the proposed increase for 2012-13, it simply would restore the district's state support to 2009-10 school year levels. That's in large part because of the loss of one-time federal stimulus funds schools received for the 2010-11 school year.

Pickerington received $3.5 million in stimulus funds.

"The funding news we received (March 24) is a two-year 'bridge formula' for schools," PLSD Superintendent Karen Mantia said. "This formula will give school districts time to realign their expenditures until the state releases a new funding model in the future."

According to Griscom, the PLSD expects to spend up to $97.05 million this year for operations, and it will generate about $90.04 million in revenue.

Mantia said the district cut $7 million from its budget between 2007 and this year, prior to announcing the $13 million in cuts for next school year.

"There are more items to be addressed before the close of this school year," she said. "Our community has supported us time and time again, and we all need to understand that there is only so much money available and times (are) tough for everyone."

In addition to the latest budget update, the board of education on March 25 approved reducing employment hours for nine employees for the 2011-12 school year.

The employees include the district's director of communications and three assistant principals, as well as three special-education coordinators and a school nurse.

By cutting the employees' work by 67 hours, the district expects to save $44,431.