Friday, July 17, 2015

Schools will get funding bump

Published in WESTERVILLE NEWS & PUBLIC OPINION

Wednesday July 1, 2015 10:48 AM

For the 2016 fiscal year, the Westerville school district is expected to receive from the state $38.94 million, an 8.3 percent increase from 2015.
In fiscal 2017, the state will be more generous, sending an estimated $41.8 million to the school district -- another 7.4 percent increase.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the new two-year state budgetTuesday, June 30. It is scheduled to go into effect with the start of the 2016 fiscal year Wednesday, July 1.
Westerville City School District Treasurer Bart Griffith said he is happy with the outcome of the state budget.
"Westerville is fortunate. We will see a nice increase compared to other schools," he said.
Five Franklin County districts will receive no additional state money under the plan: Bexley, DublinGahanna, Grandview and Worthington.
The largest percentage increases in central Ohio will go to Olentangy Local in Delaware County (29.5 percent this year, followed by 14.8 percent in fiscal 2017); and in Franklin County, New Albany (22.3 percent/12.2 percent) and Upper Arlington (13.7 percent/8.8 percent).
Griffith said the district recently updated its five-year financial forecast, planning for only a 1.5 percent increase from the state.
"We want to be conservative in our estimates," he said.
When the new dollar figures from the state are plugged into the five-year forecast, Griffith said the district should have an extra $16 million cash balance over the next four years.
Griffith said the district had an even bigger increase from fiscal 2014 to 2015, with a 10.5 percent bump in state funding.
In fiscal 2015, Westerville schools received $35.95 million from the state.
Griffith said the district is continuing to stretch money from its five-year emergency levy passed in 2012.
However, in 2017, he said the district will need to pass a renewal of that emergency levy.
"To continue our momentum and be fiscally responsible, I would recommend to the school board that the levy be renewed," he said. "I get that no one wants to pay taxes. Our goal is to not have to keep coming back to the voters."
Since the levy would be a renewal and not an addition, there would be no new taxes, he said.
For this biennial budget, Griffith said Westerville was fortunate but it may not fare as well in 2018-19.
"Hopefully two years from now, we will continue to see increases. But maybe we won't," he said.