State funding caps will mean the loss of more than $5 million for Reynoldsburg schools this year and the district likely will see expenditures outpace revenues by 2021.

The Reynoldsburg school board unanimously approved an updated five-year forecast May 22.

Ohio school districts are required to submit the funding forecasts to the Ohio Department of Education twice annually, in the spring and fall.

For the past several years, the district has been squirreling away cash by diverting excess general-fund revenues into accounts for specific items like technology and bus purchases, treasurer Tammy Miller said.

Salaries and benefits account for 70% of the district's spending.

Miller said Reynoldsburg ended fiscal year 2018 with $38 million in the general fund, enough to pay for 184 operating days.

Those savings have helped offset the need for an operating levy, but it likely won't last forever: Reynoldsburg is projected to spend more money than it takes in by about 2021, Miller said.

Nearly half of Reynoldsburg's funding comes from the state.

Miller said the district is projected to receive about $37.5 million from the state in fiscal 2019 -- nearly $5.8 million less than what Reynoldsburg would have received if it weren't "capped."

School districts cannot limit their enrollment growth, but the state can and has limited the percentage of additional funding it is willing to give to growing districts -- including Reynoldsburg, which is among several central Ohio districts capped by the state funding formula.

Ohio's funding formula calculates how much the state will pay each district based on enrollment.

The formula provides additional funding for students in certain categories -- for instance, those who have limited proficiency in English, those who are considered economically disadvantaged and those who are in special-education classes.

However, the state budget for education does not include enough money to cover every district once the per-pupil and category calculations are made. That's when caps are applied.

The five-year forecast assumes state funding will remain flat through fiscal year 2023, Miller said.

Board president Joe Begeny said the district has remained off the ballot since 2010 despite being "shortchanged" by the state.

"There are not a lot of districts in central Ohio who can say they have this kind of cash reserve," he said.

Last February, the school board unanimously approved a resolution opposing the current state funding formula, calling it unconstitutional.

According to the resolution, the money Reynoldsburg schools do not receive from the state because of funding caps is "roughly the amount of a 6.8-mill levy, which is a major factor in the district's need to return to taxpayers for additional revenues."

Information on the five-year forecast can be found at reyn.org/TreasurersOffice.aspx.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 18 at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

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