Although long-term state funding amounts are hard to estimate, Reynoldsburg City Schools district has achieved an impressive financial stability based on its latest five-year forecast and is meeting financial goals, Treasurer Tammy Miller said.

Although long-term state funding amounts are hard to estimate, Reynoldsburg City Schools district has achieved an impressive financial stability based on its latest five-year forecast and is meeting financial goals, Treasurer Tammy Miller said.

She said the recent update of the forecast estimates a cash balance of $34.4 million at the end of fiscal year 2020, compared to the $24.3 million estimated for that year in the October 2015 forecast.

"The May forecast incorporates updated state funding simulations, which account for $5 million of the increase," Miller said. "State funding is set every two years as part of the state biennial budget.

"This forecast encompasses three state budget cycles, so the state funding estimates will likely change as we move forward," she said.

The updated financial document covers actual financial data from fiscal years 2013 through 2015 and estimates for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.

Total actual revenues for fiscal year 2015 (which ended June 2015) were $68,692,952, with expenditures at $61,563,028. With a carry-over cash balance minus encumbrances, the fund balance ended up at $16,577,118.

By the end of fiscal year 2016, which ends June 30, the document estimates an ending fund balance of $22,678,079, with total revenues at $72,038,146 and expenditures at $65,866,282.

Miller said fiscal year 2016 revenue estimates increased by $900,000 compared to the October forecast.

"The district received an additional one-time $500,000 from the Taylor Square TIF (tax-increment financing). Plus, real estate taxes and state funding are projected to come in over the October (2015) forecast," she said.

She said fiscal year 2016 expenditure estimates also were decreased, compared to the last forecast.

"Community school expenditures (for students choosing to leave the district and attend a community school) were down, utility costs came in lower due to a mild winter and personnel cost estimates were lower than on the October forecast," she said.

Voters approved an incremental operating levy in May 2010, which began at 6.9 mills in January 2011 and increased by 1 mill annually until it reached 9.9 mills in January 2014. Miller said fiscal year 2015 was the first full fiscal year of collections from the fully phased-in levy.

Regarding expenditures, Miller said employee salaries and benefits are where the district spends the most. The negotiated contract for certified employees is effective from Aug. 1, 2014, to July 31, 2017. It includes 4-percent longevity step increases for most teaching staff, plus a base salary increase of 2 percent in 2015, 1.6 percent in 2016 and 1.9 percent in 2017.

Certified staff must pay 10 percent of their health insurance premium each year under the contract, with insurance increases forecast to increase by 10 percent on Jan. 1, 2017.

Miller attributes the district's stable financial outlook to some key strategies, including controlled expenditures, "reasonable" personnel contracts, partnerships with local organizations and colleges, and open enrollment allowing students from other school districts to attend Reynoldsburg Schools.

She said open enrollment is estimated to bring in $3.7 million in revenue by the end of fiscal year 2016.

Although the district is known for innovation, expenditures are controlled by trading space and services with local partners and adopting an approach "that prioritizes promising new strategies among existing practices, so that new expenditures are offset by elimination of lower-priority expenditures," Miller said.

She said the district has consistently met financial goals.

"One of the district goals is to have a positive cash balance in fiscal year 2020," she said. "Based on the May forecast, the district will achieve that goal with a healthy cash balance."

Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning said she was happy to be able to give out performance bonus checks to 33 teachers at the May 17 school board meeting.

"These performance bonuses were based on Value-Added results (based on state report card results) and we are pleased to present these as bonus checks," she said.

The bonus checks ranged from $1,000 to $4,000, for a total of about $69,000.