Funding issue for OLSD


District balancing growth, lack of state funding

By Joshua Keeran - jkeeran@aimmediamidwest.com



Tough Financial Forecast

The 5-year forecast for the Olentangy Local School District shows a projected unencumbered fund balance of $72 million for the current fiscal year, or what equates to 122 days cash balance. The unencumbered fund balance is projected to head in a downward spiral to $67 million in fiscal year 2019, $54 million in fiscal year 2020, $32 million in fiscal year 2021, and $1 million or 1-day cash balance in fiscal year 2022.

The Olentangy Local School District board of education signed off on the district’s October 2017 five-year forecast last Thursday, which projects the unencumbered fund balance will decrease by $71 million between fiscal years 2018 and 2022.

According to the numbers presented by Treasurer Emily Hatfield, the forecast shows a projected unencumbered fund balance of $72 million for the current fiscal year, or what equates to 122 days cash balance. The unencumbered fund balance is projected to head in a downward spiral to $67 million in fiscal year 2019, $54 million in fiscal year 2020, $32 million in fiscal year 2021, and $1 million or 1-day cash balance in fiscal year 2022.

“In fiscal year 2019 is when we start to creep over that edge of expenditures exceeding revenues, and it carries forward in years 2020, 2021, and 2022,” Hatfield said.

She added the projected numbers don’t come as a surprise.

“This is a typical cycle of funding mechanism, I would say, for a district such as us, which is locally funded,” Hatfield said. “We do receive state funding. It’s only about 6 percent of our overall revenue, and it doesn’t keep up with the growth of our student population.”

Since fiscal year 2010, enrollment in the OLSD has increased by 5,500-plus students to 20,525. The forecast projects enrollment will reach 22,153 students by fiscal year 2022.

Due to the continual increase in enrollment combined with the fact the district receives just $550 per pupil in state funding compared to the state average of $4,550, OLSD officials continue to push for additional funding per pupil.

Board member Julie Wagner Feasel said during the Oct. 5 meeting that the district is pushing hard to at least receive what private schools get per pupil in state funding, which is $1,267.

“In the last year of the forecast, if we got what private schools got, we would get $16.3 million more in fiscal year 2022,” she said.

Due to the district’s reliance on local funding and the projections laid out in the five-year forecast, it’s only a matter of time before voters will be asked to support another levy, Hatfield said.

In other business:

• Nearly 30 Olentangy high school students were presented with academic achievement awards for their accomplishments in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Of the 1.6 million high school students from across the country who participated in the program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, 22 Olentangy students were named “Commended Scholars,” while seven earned the right to advance to the next step in the program as semifinalists.

The district’s semifinalists include three students from Liberty High School (Sarah Colvin, Chenhao Ma, and Ruarai O’Tighearnaigh), two from Olentangy High School (Hannah He and Claire Jones), and two from Orange High School (Kelly Lawrence and Jackson Schiefelbein).

The approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide will compete for nearly 7,500 National Merit scholarships worth more than $33 million.

• The board approved the establishment of the Eighth Grade Veterans Service Learning group at Orange Middle School.

According to the group’s purpose statement, its goal is to raise money for the Orange Township Veterans Memorial, Honor Flight, and Blue Star Mothers of America.

“I’m continually overwhelmed by the work our middle schools have been doing to support our veterans,” said Roger Bartz, board president.

District balancing growth, lack of state funding

By Joshua Keeran

jkeeran@aimmediamidwest.com

Tough Financial Forecast

The 5-year forecast for the Olentangy Local School District shows a projected unencumbered fund balance of $72 million for the current fiscal year, or what equates to 122 days cash balance. The unencumbered fund balance is projected to head in a downward spiral to $67 million in fiscal year 2019, $54 million in fiscal year 2020, $32 million in fiscal year 2021, and $1 million or 1-day cash balance in fiscal year 2022.

Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.

Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.