BW Board of Education approves five-year forecast


SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Board of Education unanimously approved May’s five-year forecast at its meeting last week.

Treasurer Jeremy Buskirk said the five-year forecast is a planning tool and is required by state law to be updated twice a year. He described it as a roadmap for the district that helps, for instance, in contracts with unions. He also said state auditors and the Ohio Department of Education monitors the forecasts and will assist a district if needed.

“The financial forecast is somewhat like a painting of the future based upon a snapshot of today,” Buskirk said, adding that wasn’t his line, but he liked the quote.

The forecast involves the speculation of trends, such as staffing needs using current data so the district can be proactive.

“It is a key management tool for us,” he said. “Once it’s posted (on the district’s website), you can dig into those notes and assumptions.”

Big Walnut has a 30-day carryover balance, and it was discussed whether that should be changed to a 60-day carryover balance. “There is always a balance,” Buskirk said, noting there were pros and cons to changing the carryover.

As a service industry, nearly 83% of the district’s expenses goes towards salaries and benefits, Buskirk said. “We are quite in line with what we said in November.”

However, the district has a positive balance all five years of the forecast (through 2026), “which is a good thing,” he said. Typically, years three to five of district forecasts have a negative balance.

The 23-page forecast can be seen at Five-Year.pdf (

Board member Sherri Dorsch said what Buskirk and his team had done was a “remarkable feat.” She said imagine trying to do a five-year forecast of a family’s household budget.

“You do a great job, and I appreciate you,” board member Alice Nicks said to Buskirk.

“As a new board member, you have been open and very welcome to me,” board member Angela Graziosi said to Buskirk. “It’s a lot to learn.”

“Thank you for the presentation, as always very informative,” said Board President Doug Crowl.

Buskirk also went over the monthly budget, which he said had a positive variance and was in line with what was expected. He said the district has 40 school buses and just received four of them. They are powered by either propane or diesel fuel. In response to a question, Buskirk said the district was not allowed to purchase propane futures but can lock in rates for a year.

Buskirk then asked the board to approve the 2023 tax budget for the Community Library in Sunbury. Library Director Chauncey Montgomery, who attended the meeting, called the budget flat and conservative. Board member Steve Fujii said Montgomery and his staff do a phenomenal job for the services they provide. This budget was unanimously approved.

The graduating class was also unanimously approved.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper said he had a picture on his office wall of fourth grade students from when he was at Big Walnut Elementary, and seven years later, they’re graduating. There are 292 graduating seniors, and 285 kindergarteners enrolled for the next school year, Cooper said.

Among the donations approved were $111,000 from the Sunbury Meadows permanent improvement fund and $15,233.20 from the Galena New Community Authority (established in 2017). Buskirk said these two revenues are currently received twice a year.

Cooper said a new sport, boys volleyball, will start play next spring.

The board will hold a special meeting today at 4:15 p.m. to interview candidates for the district’s superintendent position.

Big Walnut now has 40 school buses in its fleet, it was said at the May 19 Board of Education meeting. Walnut now has 40 school buses in its fleet, it was said at the May 19 Board of Education meeting. Gary Budzak | The Gazette

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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