Groveport Madison prepares for second round of state-funding cuts

JACK McLAUGHLIN
lcochran@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

The Groveport Madison school district is bracing for a second round of state budget cuts stemming from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

District treasurer Fecilia Drummey said it's likely Groveport Madison schools will see a reduction of 4% in state aid for fiscal 2021, which begins July 1, but that number could be higher.

"We have planned for 4% reduction to state aid; however, we anticipate that reductions could be upwards of 10% and we have modeled that higher reduction to assess the impact on our operations," Drummey said.

Ohio school districts likely will learn more about these expected cuts before the beginning of July 1, she said.

Over the last two months, the Groveport Madison district lost 2.7% of its state aid, or $1.1 million, as Ohio launched its first round of budget cuts that saw $300 million slashed from state funding for schools.

According to Drummey, the impact on Groveport Madison has been especially hard.

"The state makes up 52.59% of our annual revenue, making us highly dependent upon state funding and vulnerable to state cuts," she said. "Clearly, next year we are entering a cycle of financial pressure brought on by the impact of COVID-19 on our local economy.

"We expect revenue next year will be insufficient to meet current obligations," Drummey said. "That decrease in revenue will necessitate use of prior years' surplus of set-aside funds as well as planned reductions to expenses."

Even though the district will be heavily affected by the decrease in state aid, Drummey believes it has put itself in a position to weather the setbacks. She noted the district was in a "strong financial position" at the beginning of this calendar year and that year-to-date spending as of April 30 has been down by $988,896.

"This savings will partially offset the reduction in state aid to help balance this year's budget," Drummey said.

According to Jeff Warner, the district's director of communications and community relations, school officials are still discussing how to trim the 2021 budget.

"We are currently evaluating our finances to determine an appropriate course of action," he said.

Drummey noted that because the situation is so fluid, it will take time to piece together a strategy, but she said district officials will continue their evaluations throughout fiscal 2021.

"New information emerges daily, so (we) will continue to meet regularly over the next several months to model the impact of new information about state cuts and identify action steps that might be necessary to lower the projected spending levels," she said.

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