Yellow Springs School Board

Levy, budget on board plate

At their Oct. 8 meeting, school board members discussed the updated five-year financial forecast in the light of current economic difficulties.

District Treasurer Joy Kitzmiller and Interim Superintendent Tony Armocida are recommending that the district seek a levy renewal in May 2010, at the same level as the current levy, which according to Kitzmiller, has remained constant for 10 years.

“We are hoping to ask for a five-year renewal of that levy, as it is a very important part of our revenue stream,” she said.

Kitzmiller presented the five-year forecast she is mandated by the state to update throughout the year that includes assumed revenues from a renewal of the current levy.

The school district has entered deficit spending, due to recent decreased income tax receipts, which are forecast to come in more than 30 percent below last year. While the school’s financial situation is eased by a large cash carry-over, the deficit spending is beginning to eat into the surplus and will continue to do so.

In the updated five-year forecast, the current 2009–2010 school year is estimated to end in a deficit of $613,596, with an ending cash balance of $2,806,811. The 2010–2011 school year is expected to run in the red by $976,767, with an ending cash balance of $1,830,044. The 2011–2012 school year is the first year projected to end in a negative cash balance of $385,047, which is then forecasted to compound into a negative cash balance of nearly $2 million in the 2013–2014 school year.

The cash carryover, which began with a restructuring payment in 2004 from The Antioch Company, was $3.4 million at the beginning of this fiscal year, according to Kitzmiller in an interview this week. The initial Antioch Company payment of $1.3 million has since that time been augmented by higher-than-expected tax receipts and investment income.

Good business decisions, such as a change to a less expensive health care plan, have also helped to maintain the surplus, she said.

“We’ve been trying to stay fiscally ahead of the game,” she said.

Due to the carry-over, the district has time to think about how to approach cuts without being reactionary, Armocida said, indicating that “strategic thinking” to rein in costs now can have a greater savings impact over multiple years.

According to board member Richard Lapedes, who is the board’s liaison to the Greene County Career Center, all of the districts in Greene County are experiencing ramifications of the economic crisis. However, he indicated that the Yellow Springs district is in the best position because of the surplus created by “prudent management.”

“Perhaps some taxpayers thought that it was not the greatest to have such a great surplus, but right now it is saving our lives,” Lapedes said. “Other [districts] don’t have two nickels to rub together and are in great pain.”

In other school business:

• Board members approved a proposal by senior class sponsor Desiree Nickell for the 2009–2010 senior trip to the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans, La. Students will also work with Habitat for Humanity on a home-building or restoration project. Last year Nickell visited the festival to preview the environment, and she said it’s a family-friendly event appropriate for students. Several chaperones have been recruited.

• Armocida explained to the board that the program audit commissioned by the district will start this week in the schools. Researchers from the state will be present in the schools to interview teachers and sit in on classes.

The purpose of the program audit, according to Armocida, is to compare and contrast the programming and associated costs of Yellow Springs to other districts considered comparable by the state in demographics and location. The data will supplement the planning for the next levy, Armocida said.

• The board will convene a Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m. in the Mills Lawn gymnasium on Thursday, Oct. 22. The meeting is being held to discuss the results of the special education survey given to parents of students receiving special education.

• The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., in the boardroom at Mills Lawn.

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