Worthington Schools recently published its annual Popular Annual Financial Report. This easy-to-read report provides residents with a transparent review of our financial status by detailing where our resources and revenues come from, as well as our spending priorities.
One of the biggest financial accomplishments for the school district is stretching the most recent levy cycle from three to six years.
This is a direct result of our efforts to control spending where we can, including savings by self-insuring both our workers' compensation and employee -health insurance. In fact, over the past two years, we have been able to decrease our health-insurance premiums 8 percent in 2016 and another 6.7 percent for 2017. These actions have saved our district more than $13 million since 2010.
In addition, a longer-than-expected phaseout of tangible-personal-property-tax revenue from the state, along with a significant number of teacher retirements, contributed to expanding the time between levies.
Worthington Schools also was a recipient of the Auditor of State Award with Distinction for our excellence in financial reporting and clean audit report with no questioned costs. This is the highest award from the state auditor and only 5 percent of more than 5,800 public entities receive this award annually.
We are proud to share our financial record but also recognize that we have some challenges in the near future.
Our district enrollment is increasing but we do not receive additional funding from the state to keep up with costs.
Because of the "cap," the state-funding formula indicates the district should receive $21 million in fiscal 2018, but it will receive only $16.8 million, a shortfall of more than $4 million. We have added 1,000 students over the past six years, yet our state-funding support today is less than it was in 2012.
In addition, although property values increased with the county auditor's recent appraisal, they create no significant additional resources for the district because Ohio law protects taxpayers from increased taxes without voter approval.
Despite every effort to maintain a lean budget and stretching the levy cycle, without additional funds from a levy in 2018, we will face future reductions to staff, programs and services. This could put our excellence at risk.
Over the next several months, we will reach out to the community to share the district's story so residents can make informed decisions regarding investment in our schools.
Maintaining strong schools means we maintain a strong community. We look forward to partnership with the community in deciding what the future holds for Worthington.
Jeff McCuen is treasurer for Worthington Schools. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.