Voter rejection of a Reynoldsburg school levy on Nov. 3 prompted Superintendent Steve Dackin and treasurer Tammy Miller to outline plans last week to immediately cut $470,000 from the budget.

Voter rejection of a Reynoldsburg school levy on Nov. 3 prompted Superintendent Steve Dackin and treasurer Tammy Miller to outline plans last week to immediately cut $470,000 from the budget.

Dackin told the Reynoldsburg Board of Education at its Nov. 17 meeting the $470,000 in budget cuts he recommended that night are only part of a larger reduction that will be needed in fiscal year 2011. He said the district will need to trim another $3.5-million in operating expenses from the budget.

Nine jobs will be eliminated. Two of them, a central-office receptionist and secretary, will be cut immediately. Six custodians and a director of technology and professional development will lose their jobs in January.

The district also will reduce what is spent on maintenance and snow removal and will turn the thermostats down in buildings in order to save on heating costs.

In addition, Dackin said he is putting a complete freeze on building budgets with only emergency items being purchased and only with his authorization.

"Those are the things we find ourselves in now after three unsuccessful requests for additional revenue. Voters have been clear about our need to reduce our expenditures and we've complied every time and we continue to comply now," he said. "We are quickly heading to the point where, in terms of programs and services in the district, we will be going down a path of state minimum standards."

Miller said she is particularly concerned about income tax collections, which she estimates are running about $1-million less than last year.

She said she will present the board with a resolution next month to authorize her to borrow money, if necessary, in order to cover the January payroll. Miller said she does not know the exact amount she will ask to borrow, but it may be about $2-million.

"We won't get our next tax collection until probably February," she said. "I have had a conversation with the county auditor's office and am working on getting an advance on our taxes. That would be the easiest way to do this, but should the money not be there or should our cash balance be so low at that point, I do want to have a resolution in place to allow us to borrow cash to make payroll."

Miller said the district's total monthly payroll is about $2.4-million. If the money is borrowed, she said it can be paid back in February once real estate taxes come in.

Miller said the immediate $470,000 in cuts will help but by no means will get the district out of the woods.

"We have a lot of financial challenges ahead of us," she said. "Certainly without new revenues, our challenges are going to get greater and at some point, we're not going to be able to resolve our problems simply by making cuts."

As things stand now, Dackin said, the district will end the fiscal year with a cash balance of $732,000, "which is five days of operating cash, and that's not a good place to be."

In January, he said, he will present the board with a list of reductions related to the additional $3.5-million in budget cuts. The list will include reductions in elective coursework at the high school and junior high schools, but Dackin noted that everything is on the table.

"As we do the cuts, my obligation is to preserve those areas that the state requires us to offer, and so the things that we're not required to offer -- those are the things that will get reprioritized and we begin to reduce accordingly.

"We're going to make the very best use of the revenue we have, and that is a commitment I have for the children in this district and for the community, but it does represent a significant challenge for all of us," he said.

"Because of the way the state funds schools, it does not alleviate our need to have revenue," Dackin said. " The way the system functions, it relies on a local contribution."

Miller said there are factors out of the district's control that can have an impact on expenditures, including unexpected utility costs and losing students to other schools.

"For school kids who choose to leave to go to a community school, we pay about $7,000 on average to those schools for every student who leaves," Miller said. "We can't control the number of kids who leave, so should more kids leave than projected, that could have a negative impact on our cash balance."