LEWIS CENTER — Despite its inability to convene in typical fashion, the Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) Board of Education has continued to meet virtually, streaming its meetings online for the community to see. On Thursday, the board met to discuss the current happenings in the district as it awaits the fate of a critical school levy next week.
The impact of the community’s collective decision on the levy will be heavily represented in the district’s five-year forecast, for better or worse, and the turnaround time for the forecast to be submitted to the state leaves OLSD Treasurer Emily Hatfield with an increasingly small window to finalize the forecast.
Five-year forecasts must be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education by May 31, Hatfield said during Thursday’s meeting. “We’re going to move quickly,” she said in response to President Mindy Patrick suggesting they will need to be ready to go as soon as the results of the vote are released.
“We have our estimations collected at this point, and we will be having a virtual meeting with our finance and audit committee on May 7,” Hatfield said, adding that meeting will be posted on the website should anyone in the public want to participate. “Hopefully, we will have enough information about the (levy) results so that we can make a well-educated assumption about the passage for that because it does make a difference. If we are not successful (with the levy), we have to address the expenditure versus revenue gap in the 2021 school year.”
Hatfield said a request for an extension on the filing deadline for five-year forecasts, given the election has been delayed, was denied by the state. She said that if the forecast was filed based on an assumption of the levy outcome that turned out to be incorrect, the forecast could be changed to reflect the levy results ahead of the board’s final approval at its May 26 meeting.
If the results of the election are delayed for any reason, Hatfield said the district can file a revised or second five-year forecast as well.
For now, however, the hope remains that only one draft of the forecast — positively impacted by the levy results — will be needed.
“We’ve been putting it off and prolonging the process longer than we normally do to make sure that we have an opportunity to capture as much actual information as we can,” Hatfield said. “We’ll continue to monitor and, hopefully, we have good news to put in and we’ll be able to have one forecast draft to bring forward to the board.”
Delaware County Board of Elections (BOE) Deputy Director Anthony Saadey told The Gazette this week that results of the election will be posted to the Delaware County BOE website no later than 10 p.m. April 28, which bodes well for Hatfield being able to factor in the levy results quickly.
However, because absentee ballots postmarked by the April 27 deadline will not all arrive at the BOE in time to be counted April 28, a final result for the levy might be prolonged if the count is close. Ballots postmarked by April 27 have until May 8 to arrive and be counted.
Board member Julie Feasel wrapped up the discussion by reaffirming that, despite the current times and a likely recession coming, the district’s need for the levy still remains.
“Our situation hasn’t changed,” Feasel said. “During the last recession, we still added students. We are still going to add students (during this recession).”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.