TALLMADGE – The state cuts made by Gov. Mike DeWine May 6 will impact the school budget by more than $500,000 a year.
School district treasurer Jeff Hostetler told school board members Wednesday that the budget, which is positive for a five-year forecast ending in 2022, will see an increase from the newly passed 7.4 mill operating levy, but had to be adjusted after the governor’s announcement of cuts to the schools. The levy which was passed May 7, 2019, will generate $3.2 million annually.
The five-year forecast is required by the state to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education twice annually, usually in May and October.
One of the major revenue sources of school funding is "foundation" revenue from the state based on a formula. For Tallmadge the foundation monies represent about 43% of the general fund operating revenue.
DeWine’s cuts were across the state, and Tallmadge school district will lose $538,000 per year.
"How much more will be cut?" Hostetler said. "This [five-year] forecast takes this cut and incorporates it into this fiscal year and uses it as a starting point for next year. Every time you do a five-year forecast it’s a bit of an unknown."
Total revenue for 2020 is $32.6 million and includes a rollover of $2.7 million, $17 million in real estate taxes, $9 million in state foundation funds and $2 million in homestead and rollback funds. Total expenditures of $29 million include $14.8 million in salaries and wages. The final balance is $3.5 million.
"We’re certainly in uncertain financial times now," Hostetler said. "There will be more financial news coming out of the state in the next few weeks."
Hostetler said the $538,000 a year will hurt and adds up to more than $2 million in the next four years.
"There is a lot of unknown in school funding now," he said. "I don’t expect the funds to come back. My projection doesn’t show it coming back. And who knows how quickly the economy will recover."
On the plus side, the school district is receiving $300,000 in CARES Act funding which is a one-time occurrence and not part of the budget shared with the school board.
"It will soften the blow but it’s a one-year thing," Hostetler said. "I expect more cuts in the future."
The CARES money will go toward purchasing 700 chromebooks, cases, and management console education licenses for a districtwide one-to-one technology initiative for $250,000 to enhance the education process.
The school district’s director of technology Kurt Gwin said the 700 chrome books are needed to close the gap between chromebook inventory so every student can have a chromebook and allow the flexibility for instruction from remote learning.
Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said the district has wanted to phase in one-to-one chromebooks to students but the pandemic escalated the need.
Middle School students left the day schools closed with a one-to-one ratio to chrome books, he said. They also had used the books in classrooms and were used to the devices. It was a smoother transaction in grades 6-8.
In the week following, a rapid deployment was made on an as-needed basis and a couple hundred more chrome books were distributed to students.
Ferguson said they surveyed families, and those with several kids and parents working from home where family members outnumbered devices, it caused problems of who could use a device.
The federal stimulus CARES money will cover the cost of the chromebooks to help shore up the digital divide for families, he added.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org