Graham school district predicting large deficits


By Casey S. Elliott - celliott@civitasmedia.com



ST. PARIS – State funding reductions and no new income sources may lead to million dollar deficits at Graham Local Schools, Graham officials say.

The school board approved its five-year financial forecast at its Monday meeting. The forecast is required by Ohio law to be produced in May and October each year.

Graham Treasurer Judy Geers said she predicts a $6.2 million shortfall in the 2020-21 school year if the board does not find additional funding income. Her estimates are based on reduced state funding and increased expenses from adding staff and programs.

The school board has begun the process to place an income tax levy on the November ballot, which would help with any shortfalls if voters approve it.

The forecast predicts the district will end the current school year with $17,839,137 in revenue and next school year with $17,310,783 in revenue. Revenue is estimated to decline to $17,242,020 in the 2020-21 school year.

Geers told the school board the latest state budget predictions indicate Graham would receive $500,000 a year less in funding than prior years, and that amount would add up over the life of the forecast. Also, predicted reductions in Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) funding due to state changes will add to the problem.

Expenses are estimated to end the current school year at $18,198,135 and next school year at $19,190,983. Expenses are estimated to increase to $21,122,293 in the 2020-21 school year.

Adding staff and programs to the district is costing it more, Geers said.

The district added two middle school English teachers; combined two part-time athletic director positions into one full-time one; increased the dean of students to full time; added part-time English and Social Studies teachers, two intervention specialists, a guidance counselor, kindergarten teacher, first grade teacher, literacy coach; increased hours and days for transportation secretary; added a part-time secretary for the curriculum director and summer help for maintaining the grounds in the 2015-16 school year.

In the 2016-17 school year, additional staff includes a literacy coach, school nurse and part-time funding for electives at the high school. More personnel and services are included in the 2017-18 school year.

Also included are increases in staff salaries and health insurance costs.

The forecast predicts the district will end the current school year with a $358,998 deficit and next school year with a $1,880,200 shortfall. Both would be covered by cash in reserve. That deficit is estimated to grow to $3,880,273, and it would increase to $6,246,368 when added to the cash shortfalls from prior years.

By Casey S. Elliott

celliott@civitasmedia.com

Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.

Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.