Stow-Munroe Falls schools expenditures exceed revenues, end year in black

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
Stow-Munroe Falls High School students who choose online classes will follow in-school students curriculum taught by Stow-Munroe Falls teachers.

Stow-Munroe Falls School District is now on its fifth year of spending more than it's taking in, but is expecting to end this fiscal year with a $12.26 million unreserved fund balance, according to the most recent five-year forecast. 

Still, the district needs to start having conversations about asking taxpayers for new money, cutting expenses or a combination of the two, Treasurer Trevor Gummere said. 

"We all know life costs money every day and things are not cheap. We've made some adjustments, but we're still going to look at what adjustments we can make to the general fund going forward," Gummere said. 

This year, district revenues are expected to be at $58.1 million, with about 69.1% coming from local sources and 30.9% from state funding. Meanwhile expenditures are expected at $62.9 million. Expenses exceed revenues by 2.1% on average each year.

Wages and benefits make up about 80.9% of expenditures, which is considered high, Gummere said. 

This past year, the district lost $1.1 million due to state budget cuts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the loss was offset by a one-time $912,000 reimbursement from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and a yet-to-be received $500,000 grant from Summit County, Gummere said. 

District finances were also aided by the recent renewal of two levies that yield $11.1 million annually, and by $2.6 million garnered through open enrollment. 

Gummere added that the district will need to renew a $7.3 million levy that expires in 2023, and he expects to ask for voters' support 18 months prior to expiration. 

"[The levy is] very crucial to us going forward, but we'll have to look at how to manage between now and then, and if we do anything differently or if we need a possible revenue enhancement," Gummere said. 

The district is seeing very little growth in revenues, and with the state's biennium budget freezing funding for the next two years, the district will not receive any additional state dollars. 

Board President Jason Whitacre noted that when he joined the board in 2018, the projected unreserved fund balance for this fiscal year was a $40,000 surplus, and now it is at a $12.26 million surplus. 

"The district would have $10.95 million in the hole by next school year, and the administration has taken the steps to go from nearly $11 million in the hole to now $5 million in the black. It's helpful in the pandemic that the community passed two renewals and that we continue to show them that good fiscal responsibility is happening here. The district is improving across the board in terms of products and performance, but the bottom line is improving with it, and that's not easy to do," Whitacre said. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.