The Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools must develop plans to deal with financial losses as a result of state cuts in funding because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Mike Verlingo, Gahanna's district treasurer, said a loss of $1.67 million in state aid is expected, representing a 11% cut in total state aid for fiscal year 2020 and 1.8% of the district's total operating expenses.

"We knew cuts were imminent, however, we thought they would be imposed on the FY21 budget, or next school year," he said. "Those cuts are still to come. Until we have knowledge of all the cuts in funding, we will need to develop plans to mitigate the potential shortfalls."

Gov. Mike DeWine announced on May 5 basic state aid for K-12 schools would take a $300 million hit out of the $775 million in state budget cuts being enacted immediately in dealing with how the coronavirus has affected state tax collections.

Fiscal year 2020 ends on June 30, and Ohio is mandated to balance its budget each year.

While state revenue collections were ahead of estimates by over $200 million at the end of February and prior to the spread of the coronavirus, they were below budgeted estimates by $776.9 million at the end of April.

In addition to the $300 million reduction in K-12 school funds, other cuts applied to Medicaid, $210 million; other education budget line items, $55 million; higher education, $110 million; and all other agencies, $100 million.

DeWine said in a press release that instituting the cuts now would provide the most stability moving forward.

"I am greatly concerned about the cuts we must make in education," he said. "We have an obligation to our schools to give them as much predictability as we can, but if we don't make these cuts now, future cuts would be more dramatic."

Following DeWine's announcement, Gahanna's school district, like all K-12 schools in Ohio, will see a reduction in overall revenue, said Steve Barrett, district superintendent.

"This is unfortunate news that could ultimately impact future educational opportunities for our students," he said. "We will continue to work toward a solution that best serves our students, staff and community members."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla