An executive order by Gov. Mike DeWine that slashed education funding in Ohio by $300 million at the end of fiscal 2020 will cost Groveport Madison Schools an additional $1.1 million for the fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The district also lost $1.1 million worth of state aid for fiscal 2021 -- about 2.67% of its annual budget -- when DeWine ordered budget reductions statewide in the final months of the 2019-20 school year as the state grappled with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fiscal 2021 started July 1.

Treasurer Felicia Drummey said the district depends on state aid for nearly half its annual funding and will have to make budget adjustments, but the most recent cuts are less than expected.

"There was a lot of angst and deliberation in our May forecast: Was it going to be 4%? Was it going to be 10%? Was it going to be 20%?" she said at a July 8 school board meeting. "No one knew. So though we budgeted for a cut of 4% in our forecast, our cut is going to remain the same at 2.67%".

Drummey said this figure holds true for only the first quarter of fiscal 2021 because state officials announced the percentage amounts of future budget reductions could change at the beginning of each quarter due to the fluid nature of operations during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"The virus could surge and the state could lose more revenue, which in turn would affect what we receive," Drummey said.

Superintendent Garilee Ogden said operating Groveport Madison schools on a limited budget will be made more difficult by the pandemic.

"Ensuring the continuity of instruction and the financial stability of the district are our top concerns," she said.

"This is particularly challenging now when considering the potential expenses that will inevitably result from operating our schools while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic."

The district will attempt to offset the loss of state aid through a combination of budget reductions and grants.

Currently, the district's financial plans include $2.3 million in cuts to spending, in keeping with the initial expectation of 4% in cuts to state aid.

One of the ways this will be accomplished is by converting the Cruiser Campus, a building serving special-needs high school students, into a Lil' Cruiser Campus to serve pre-kindergarten operations. Cruiser Campus will be incorporated into Groveport Madison High School to save on staffing expenditures.

According to Jeff Warner, district communications director, the move will address crowding issues and social-distancing concerns because it will free up six Groveport Madison Elementary School classrooms that previously housed the district's prekindergarten program.

This year the district also will receive a one-time federal CARES Funding for Title Services estimated at $1.9 million.

Additionally, according to Drummey, the district saw savings of almost $2 million while buildings were closed, and it operated remotely between March and June. Much of that will carry over to fiscal 2021, she said.

"The result of this activity is a positive operating condition for the year of $1.8 million," she said. "This is good news for the budget overall because it positions us to move easily into next school year."

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