It's Worth It: Worthington Schools leaders monitoring financial health

TJ Cusick
Guest columnist

Last May, the Worthington Schools’ five-year forecast was updated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was also a time of significant economic uncertainty.

The governor cut state funding, and future property-tax revenue was uncertain. Total projected revenue for the following five years was reduced by $28 million.

TJ Cusick is the treasurer of Worthington Schools.

We responded by tightening our belts with $1.8 million in budget reductions this school year, and our teachers and support staff did an amazing job educating our students in a remote and hybrid delivery environment.

This May, state economic reports indicate Ohio has weathered the storm well. Revenue is exceeding projections, and the governor’s proposed state biennial budget for 2022-23 restores education funding to prepandemic levels. One-time federal relief funds were provided to cover additional costs, students are back in our schools full-time and businesses are opening back up.

Projections in the five-year forecast this May restore revenues to prepandemic levels, and future expenditures are slightly under prior estimates.

We welcome this good news, but there still are some challenges ahead.

New variants of the virus could impose future restrictions, and commercial property values could be volatile.

Our district has experienced tremendous enrollment growth over the past decade. Our residential property continues to turn over at very strong sale prices, but how the pandemic impacts family planning and future enrollment is unknown.

Although the proposed state budget restores funding to prepandemic levels, our growing district still is projected to receive nearly $6 million less per year in state funding since our legislators have chosen not to fully fund the educational formula. We expect the need to return to voters in the near future for both operating and capital needs.

I encourage you to take part in our community-engagement process over the next several months as we determine phase 2 of our multiyear capital plan. Thank you for your continued support of Worthington Schools.

TJ Cusick is the treasurer of Worthington Schools. Contact him at tjcusick@wscloud.org.