The Buckeye Valley school board was informed in a recent meeting that the district’s five-year forecast indicates the district will have a spending deficit of $2,193,389 by fiscal year 2020 if current trends continue.
The forecast predicts $24.4 million in revenues with $27.1 million in expenditures by 2020. “By 2020 the district is spending more then we are financially receiving,” said Treasurer Kelley Ziegler.
District officials said there is no need for concern. “We have the reserves and this practice takes us out beyond 2020 while still remaining in the black,” said Superintendent Andrew Miller in an email to The Gazette. “The district is aware of this issue and it is taking steps in regard to staffing costs, which are the majority of the district expenses.”
In the meantime, the district is seeing an upturn in the area economy, officials said. “I think we’re going to rely on income taxes,” Ziegler said. “Income tax at BV has done very well for us. It is continuously growing. It means the economy is in the positive and people are working.”
Lower enrollment and state funding cuts are two of the causes for the deficit predicted by district officials. “State funding for Buckeye Valley is no longer guaranteeing funds for next year,” Ziegler said. “Our state share (of funding) has gone from 18 percent to 12 percent by 2020 putting more burden on (local) taxpayers to fund education.”
Miller said the enrollment forecast shows a decline but the numbers are ahead of the forecast for next year. “The district’s projected enrollment numbers are up,” he said.
Regarding lower enrollment, officials attribute it to students going to online and charter schools.
Every time a student decides to go to an online or to a charter school, the money goes with them — at a total of $600,000 annually away from the district. “Twenty to 30 kids is a big deal for us,” Ziegler said.
The district is looking for ways to bring those students back to Buckeye Valley by instituting its own online courses, Ziegler said.
Looking at spending and costs, board member Amy Dutt said last week that she noticed an increase in spending. “Why have purchased services gone up?” she asked.
Ziegler said the district can’t predict when a special needs student will be enrolled. The district is mandated by law to meet a student’s needs. “If a kid walks in tomorrow, we have to provide services immediately,” she said. “Expenses are the most ticketed crap shoot we have.”
Ziegler told the board the forecast could change at anytime. “This is a living, breathing document,” she said. “It changes more than anything else in my life.”
The board approved the five-year forecast at last week’s meeting.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin