Fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.
These are expectations we hear often from the taxpayers of the New Albany-Plain Local School District – and rightly so.
The school board and administration clearly understand the burden that the reliance on personal-property taxes that the state funding model for public schools creates for our residents.
The board, administration and staff collectively have worked to reduce expenditures and control the rate of expenditure growth while also increasing academic achievement, student growth and student well-being.
Pursuant to Ohio law, all Ohio public school districts must approve, submit and publicly report a five-year forecast outlining revenues and expenditures twice annually.
This forecast includes known operational expenditures, including salaries and benefits, and assumptions for future school years within a five-year period.
The forecast allows taxpayers and state officials to understand the percent of dollars invested in each school district and how such dollars are being spent in a consistent and transparent way.
Our school district is 85% locally funded via personal-property-tax rates that are the same for all residents within our school district boundaries, with the additional 15% received from state and federal funding resources.
The May 2019 forecast for our school district includes $66.6 million in revenue with projected district general-fund expenditures of $64.0 million for FY19.
An increase in real-estate and income-tax sharing revenue, coupled with reductions enacted by the administration, increase our forecasted ending cash balance from a projected $3.9 million to $8.5 million in the fifth year of the revised forecast.
The deliberate cost-savings measures enacted strengthen our fiscal position and permit the school district to continue to push out the need for an operational tax levy to 2023 or beyond.
The board and administration will continue to search for additional cost savings to benefit our taxpayers while advocating for fair-funding changes in the unconstitutional public-school formula used in Ohio.
While recent media reports have included rhetoric on how the proposed changes to school funding in Ohio may directly benefit our school district, it remains highly unlikely that the General Assembly will reach agreement on legislation that actually will increase funding to our school district from the state in any substantial way.
More realistically, the board and administration continue our efforts with elected and state officials to guarantee that our school district should minimally receive the same amount of state funding provided to chartered non-public schools or private schools. Specifically, that would be an increase from $786 per student we currently are receiving from the state to approximately $1,300 that the state funds for each student in a chartered nonpublic or private school in Ohio.
The formula to distribute state taxes to schools in Ohio remains unconstitutional and adversely impacts our school district taxpayers everyday. Any funding changes enacted by the legislature will be included when we update the forecast again in November.
While our efforts to increase revenues to our school district via state resources remains frustrating, we are grateful for the forethought and vision at the local level by the city of New Albany and the New Albany Co. especially. Deliberate and strategic actions are taken to safeguard student enrollment by actively soliciting commercial-revenue sources rather than residential developments within our school district boundaries.
The recent land purchase by Google on Beech Road will generate new revenue for our school district in the future as part of the Google campus envisioned for construction will be within the New Albany-Plain Local School District boundaries, unlike Facebook.
The board and administration are equally committed to maximizing our existing resources to meet the academic and developmental needs of our students without seeking additional dollars from our taxpayers for several more years. Additional financial information, including but not limited, to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, online checkbook and other financial documents may be found on our website at www.napls.us under the Treasurer's section.
Our school district has and will continue to be fiscally responsible, accountable and transparent with our taxpayers. Any taxpayer of our community is welcome to contact me at 614-855-2040, the superintendent, or any member of the school board when you have questions about the finances of our school district.
Rebecca Jenkins is the chief financial officer and treasurer for the New Albany-Plain Local School District.