South-Western City Schools treasurer Hugh Garside will get a bonus, but no raise, in 2010.

South-Western City Schools treasurer Hugh Garside will get a bonus, but no raise, in 2010.

The school board unanimously approved a contract for Garside that includes no raise for the next five years, starting August 2010.

Earlier this year, Garside opted to take no raise for 2009.

"I just think it's the right thing to do with the economic issues facing schools in the state and country," Garside said. "In my situation, it was the right thing to do."

He said he suggested to school board members that he take the five-year contract without a raise.

He said he made the decision, not necessarily to influence other school district employees or unions.

Garside earns $118,450 annually.

School board members held an executive session Dec. 7 to evaluate Garside's performance as treasurer.

According to the evaluation, Garside received the highest score, a five or "superior" rank, in all but two of the evaluation's 45 categories.

Garside will get a $3,554 bonus as a result.

He earned a 4.4 out of a possible 5.0 in keeping "the school board informed of new and potential legislation affecting finance and business operations," and a 4.8 in maintaining "internal control systems to account for the receipt, safeguarding and disbursement of the district's cash assets, including student activity program funds."

Cathy Johnson, school board president, said in the evaluation that Garside sees the "educational picture" as it pertains to the district's finances. He explains complex financial issues in an understandable manner, she added.

Also at the meeting, Garside told school board members he submitted an updated five-year financial forecast to the Ohio Department of Education that includes added revenues and expenditures because of passage of a 7.4-mill operating levy Nov. 3.

The updated forecast shows a deficit of $18.5-million in the district's unreserved fund balance by the end of fiscal year 2013.

Expenditures begin to exceed revenues by fiscal year 2011.

School officials also spoke of their concerns about House Bill 318, legislation that would delay this year's 4.2-percent income tax cut to fill an $851-million gap in the state's budget.

If lawmakers cannot come to an agreement this month, the Ohio Department of Education predicts South-Western schools will lose $23.7-million in the next 18 months from the state.

"My holidays will be merrier if I know I won't have to cut $23.7-million from the budget," Johnson said.

Superintendent Bill Wise said the possible loss in state funding is "worrisome."

During the public participation portion of the meeting, Terry Jones, president of South-Western Alternatives to Taxes, said the passage of a November levy was not about protecting students.

"The real purpose behind the pro-levy campaign was to safeguard the salaries and benefits packages for this district's three unions," Jones said. "We're not moving anywhere until this school district, our elected officials and those who led the pro-levy campaign are held accountable for extorting and dividing this community."

Cindy Legue -- a resident who has criticized the district's spending habits -- said the possible loss of state funds is one more reason for district officials to demand concessions from union employees when negotiations begin in spring. "What is the board doing today to plan for this shortfall?" she asked.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com