As the New Albany-Plain Local School District prepares for a potential multiyear reduction in state funding, leaders are not looking at any staff layoffs until more is known about classes in the fall, Superintendent Michael Sawyers said.

"Until I understand what I'm supposed to be doing, I can't determine how to do it," he said.

The district also has a hiring freeze, Sawyers said, and will avoid filling any open positions unless they are necessary to meet student needs.

Gov. Mike DeWine on May 5 announced $775 million in budget cuts for the two-month remainder of the 2020 fiscal year. The cuts, which were caused by the state's cratered economy after many businesses were ordered closed by DeWine to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, include $300 million in basic state aid to Ohio's more than 600 public school districts.

According to information from the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, the district's funding for fiscal 2020 was $3,636,123, or $743 per student. That funding is being reduced by $865,130, or $177 per student.

Fiscal 2020 began July 1, 2019, and ends June 30, district treasurer Becky Jenkins said.

Although the district has not received additional information from the state or the Ohio Department of Education, Jenkins said, leaders are anticipating the reduction in state funding will be over multiple years.

As such, the district's most recent five-year forecast, which includes fiscal years 2020 through 2024, uses the figure that accounts for the 2020 reduction in every year of the forecast, she said.

Because of the state-funding reduction, the district is spending more than it is bringing in during this fiscal year, Jenkins said.

In fiscal 2024, the district is forecasted to have a nearly $4.6 million deficit because of the expected continued reduction in state funding, along with reductions in funding from real-estate-tax collections, income-tax-revenue sharing with the city of New Albany and interest income, she said.

Still, Jenkins said, the district could be in a better financial position compared to other districts in the state because of its dedication to annually reducing its budget by 1%.

The district's continuous-improvement plan includes the fiscal component of reducing the budget each year by at least the 1% figure, Sawyers told ThisWeek last September.

This is the third year that the district is challenging itself to reduce its budget by 1%, he said.

For example, in fiscal 2017, the general-revenue-fund budget was $56,348,999 and the 1% reduction goal was $560,000, according to budget information provided by district spokesman Patrick Gallaway in September.

Actual expenditures were $53,281,847, a reduction of more than $3 million from the estimated budget. That trend continued in fiscal 2018 and 2019, according to the figures.

In fiscal 2018, the budget was $60.9 million, the reduction goal was $609,236, the actual budget expenditures were almost $55.9 million and the savings difference was more than $5 million; in fiscal 2019, the budget was almost $62.8 million, the reduction goal was $627,000, the actual expenditures were just under $59 million and the difference was $3.8 million.

For fiscal 2020, the budget is $64,194,634, with the targeted reduction goal of $605,000, according to the figures.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah