Pickerington Schools officials said they are trying to gauge the expected impact of newly announced state budget cuts to education.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced May 5 funding reductions of $775 million in state spending because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Among the state's cuts, basic state aid for K-12 schools will be reduced by $300 million.

Pickerington Schools treasurer Ryan Jenkins said he is analyzing data as he prepares the district's next five-year financial forecast, which will be presented to the school board later in May.

"The five-year forecast will certainly be more sobering than originally planned," Jenkins said in a May 5 email to district staff.

"We don't have full details yet about how the funding reductions of $300 million will flow to individual schools. ... Gov. DeWine suggested the cuts may not be just a flat 3.7% for every school," Jenkins said May 5.

On May 6, Jenkins said Pickerington Schools' estimated total reduction in state funding before the end of the district's fiscal year June 30 would be a little more than $1.72 million.

"This will certainly put a damper on our anticipated reserves, but district leadership is confident that its stewardship of its resources in past school years has positioned us to be able to carefully analyze our options without an 'unreasonable' sense of urgency," Jenkins said.

"Our last operating levy was in August of 2011, and we have policies and procedures in place to help guide us through these difficult times.

"We have already begun the relevant discussions with our stakeholders to address these issues."

Jenkins said whereas the cuts "most certainly affect our forecast, we do not have to panic at this point in time."

He said the district's share of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding from the Elementary and Secondary Schools Education Recovery Fund is $705,000.

For 2019-20, the district's general fund budget is a little less than $129 million, Jenkins said.

"Up until the cuts, we had a forecasted cash carry over of $31,151,237 – about 94.5 days of available cash," Jenkins said. "That has now been reduced to $29,213,250 – about 88.64 days of available cash."

According to The Columbus Dispatch, DeWine said state tax revenue through April was $776.9 million below the fiscal year estimates on which the state budget was built.

All was well with the budget, he said, until the virus arrived.

"If we don't make these cuts now, the cuts we will have to make next year will be more dramatic," DeWine said.

"These decisions were not easy. We did not make them lightly, but they are necessary. As many of our businesses are making adjustments in this difficult time, so must our government."

All agencies and state offices are shouldering budget cuts with the exception of the state prison system, DeWine said.

The Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow contributoed to this report.

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