Olentangy BOE signs off on latest forecast


By Dillon Davis - cdavis@aimmediamidwest.com



The Olentangy Schools Board of Education voted to approve the district’s latest five-year forecast during its Nov. 16 meeting.

According to the district, the purpose of the forecast is to engage the local board of education and the community in the long-range planning and discussions of financial issues facing the school district, provide assurance of adequate funds to pay expenditures, and provide a method for the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Auditor of State to identify school districts with potential financial problems.

Documents explaining the methodology of the forecast stated, “This forecast is prepared based upon historical trends and current factors. This information is then extrapolated into estimates for subsequent years. The forecast variables can change multiple times throughout the fiscal year and while cash flow monitoring helps to identify unexpected variances no process is guaranteed. The intent is to provide the district’s financial trend over time and a roadmap for decisions aimed at encouraging financial sustainability and stability.”

According to the forecast, the district is expected to have an ending cash balance of $118,822,759 for fiscal year 2022, which would amount to 155 days of cash on hand to cover operating expenses. The next four fiscal years show an ending cash balance of $127,474,231, $124,461,011, $108,260,719, and $78,734,317.

During the meeting, Treasurer Emily Hatfield said the district’s goal is to have at least two to three months of cash on hand to begin the next fiscal year. The $78,734,317 of cash on hand for fiscal year 2026 would equate to 79 days of operating costs according to the forecast.

“Our last levy campaign was in 2020. We promised our votes we would stay off the ballot for three years, and at this time, we believe we can stretch that to four to five years,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield added the figures in the forecast include the preliminary estimates of the new Fair School Funding Plan. The actual numbers will not be made available to the district until December, meaning the district has to file the forecast based on the estimations. However, Hatfield said she is confident there will be no significant changes to the figures when the actual numbers are released.

Enrollment projections always play a significant role in the outlook of a district, and that is especially true for Olentangy Local Schools. Projections for the upcoming fiscal year are estimated to total 22,573 students across all grades and grow to 24,273 students by the end of the forecast.

“Enrollment growth is always a risk and a challenge for us as we continue to grow,” Hatfield said. “It impacts our personnel costs and our benefits costs, it impacts our facilities needs for our elementary, middle, and high school levels, and our contracted services for our preschools as well as our special education population.”

Other risks to the forecast that Hatfield highlighted included the current volatility of the economy, property tax collections, and the status of the Fair School Funding Plan.

Documents for the forecast stated, “Ohio has voted the Fair School Funding Plan into law for the FY22-FY23 biennium budget. This is a significant ‘win’ for the district. The FSFP is currently funded at 16% and 33% of total funding in this biennium. Unfortunately, legislators did not add further funding language into the law. The district will continue advocacy efforts to address the need to fully fund the formula.”

The district’s five-year forecast can be viewed in full by going to www.olentangy.k12.oh.us/departments/treasurer/five-year-forecast.

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By Dillon Davis

cdavis@aimmediamidwest.com

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

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