OLSD approves five-year forecast


The Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) has approved its 2024 spring five-year forecast, which extends through 2028. During Tuesday’s meeting of the OLSD Board of Education, a second reading was held for the forecast before receiving a unanimous vote from the board.

The five-year forecast, which is updated biannually in November and again in the spring, is intended to provide a roadmap of sorts for the district’s asset management and projected spending. In the forecast, presented by Treasurer Ryan Jenkins, OLSD projects revenues totals of $354,608,537 in 2o24, $363,384,870 in 2025, $354,902,660 in 2026, $359,318,434 in 2027, and $365,781,732 in 2028.

Expenditures are projected to total $347,135,542 in 2024, $366,251,774 in 2025, $393,009,047 in 2026, $418,891,061 in 2027, and $448,868,809 in 2028.

OLSD is projecting a revenue surplus of $7,209,115 in 2024 before falling into a deficit of $2,830,784 in 2025. That deficit grows to $38,070,267 in 2026 and $83,050,957 by the final year of the forecast, forcing the district to cut its 2028 projected expenses by 18.5% in order to balance its budget without additional revenue.

Without a new levy, the district’s cash balance totals are projected to dwindle to $11,725,432 by 2028.

The district has maintained an informal policy of having a cash reserve balance to cover two to three months of district operating costs at all times. Once the balance is projected to dip below the two to three-month costs, the district then begins considering the next operating levy going to the ballot. However, the district’s most recent 4.25-mill levy was soundly defeated by voters in March.

Under the current projections, OLSD shows a cash balance of 205 days for 2024, but those numbers continue to drop to just under 83 days in 2027 and under 10 days in 2028. The district is currently spending nearly $952,000 each day to operate, and as it continues to expand in the years to come, the operation cost is expected to approach $1.23 million per day in the 2027-28 school year.

“We simply cannot end the 2027 school year with two weeks of operating cash,” Jenkins told the board during the first reading of the forecast on April 25. “It’s just something that would be an issue for us that we’ll have to grapple with as we move forward.”

Jenkins added, “Remember, we tried to think this through and be strategic and deliberative. We passed a cash balance policy. We worked this through with our finance and audit committees, and what we settled on is that we want or are willing to slide, so to speak, by 30 days. But by the time we get to the current fiscal year plus four, which in this case would be the 2028 fiscal year, we feel most comfortable with at least 60 days of cash (on hand).

“As you saw, we are not going to meet that. We then outline what we think we ought to do, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now as a leadership team, is in consultation with the board, discuss options to address any fiscal year in which we’re falling short, and recommend options. Those are coming soon.”

Following Jenkins’ presentation of the five-year forecast during the April 25 meeting, the board held a discussion on the path forward for the district following the failure of the March levy. Much of the discussion centered on where the district could make cuts to address the looming deficit. However, while Superintendent Todd Meyer noted there are minimum operating standards the district could look at receding towards to cut costs, the sentiment among the board was that such a shift still wouldn’t address the core issue of constant growth in the district and the need for additional buildings and staff.

“I certainly don’t want to be doom and gloom, but the reality is our five-year forecast within this forecast cycle is showing us by a razor margin having enough money to have a positive cash balance (in 2028),” Jenkins said. “Certainly, I won’t be able to say that in November (when the forecast encompasses the 2028-29 school year).”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on X @DillonDavis56.

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