Westerville City Schools administrators brought forth potential cuts to the school board May 23 as the board adopted a five-year forecast that shows a $19.6-million deficit by the end of fiscal year 2013.

Westerville City Schools administrators brought forth potential cuts to the school board May 23 as the board adopted a five-year forecast that shows a $19.6-million deficit by the end of fiscal year 2013.

Administrators suggested reducing the district's purchased services expenditures, which include materials and supplies, by $1 million for the next school year.

Superintendent Dan Good said some departments would bear more of the burden of cutting that fund than others because some expenditures, such as the cost of fuel, are beyond the district's control.

"It's not an across-the-board reduction. Some areas would be cut more to realize that 4 percent," Good said.

The administration also proposed purchasing some services in an effort to save the district $39,000 next year; moving the High School Transition Program in-house, saving $206,000 next year; and doing the same with the Middle School Emotionally Disturbed Program, saving $140,000.

To further slash expenditures, the administration said the board could cut 20 positions from the 2012 budget, which would save $1.5 million in salaries and benefits. Ten of those positions were new to the 2012 school year and 10 are vacant positions.

"These are empty positions. These are not positions with people in them," board president Kristi Robbins said.

Interim treasurer Steve Huzicko said the jobs that would be eliminated are five kindergarten through eighth-grade positions, three high-school positions and two administrative positions.

The five-year financial forecast passed by the board May 23 shows the district spending $10.1 million more that it will bring in the 2012 school year. Thanks to the cash it has on hand, the district still is projected to end the year with a $3.8-million cash surplus.

In 2013, the five-year forecast shows the district spending $23.4 million more than it is projected to take in, ending the year with a $19.6-million deficit.

The deficit was made worse, Huzicko said, by cuts in state funding, an expected drop in local property values, an unexpected cut in the amount the district will receive for "payment in lieu of taxes" and by the loss of the state's tangible personal property tax.

The administration has said the board can look to cut costs, raise revenue or a combination of the two in an effort to balance the budget.

"You can do it entirely with cuts or you can do it purely with a raise in revenue, but it's more likely a combination of the two," Good told the board.

Cutting costs and raising revenue will be part of the board's discussion as it goes into the budgeting process for fiscal year 2012, which runs from July 1 of this year through June 30, 2012.

The board must pass the 2012 budget by June 30.

Board members have scheduled a retreat at 8 a.m. June 13, at which they will discuss potential cuts or ways to raise revenue, Robbins said. The board's next scheduled voting meeting is 6 p.m. June 27.

Members of the public who spoke to the board at its meeting May 23 asked the school board to avoid raising taxes.

"From 2000 through 2009, my tax payments for Westerville City Schools have increased 58 percent," resident Pete Wilms said. "The assessed valuation of my house has increased 20 percent and the enrollment of the Westerville City School District has increased less than 7 percent. My school taxes are too high."

With people across the state losing jobs and seeing salary cuts or freezes, Wilms said, Westerville schools employees were given a 2.5-percent raise for this school year and a 1.75-percent raise next school year, on top of the annual step increases most employees receive of 4.5 percent.

"Talk of the need for new revenues to replace the lost state and property tax revenues has already surfaced," Wilms said. "To coin a popular phrase, we are not being taxed too little; we are spending too much."