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Bexley Schools forming task force to address budget issues
Superintendent Mike Johnson and the Bexley Schools are taking action to address the effects of the national economic downturn on the school district budget.
The schools invite interested members of the community to join a task force that will consider the revenue and expenditures of the district. The first meeting is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Cassingham Complex Community Room.
District Treasurer Chris Essman has been updating the Board of Education monthly with new financial projections, based on information about interest rates and the state budget, as well as data from Ohio's Department of Taxation. The schools receive revenue from a combination of local, state and federal sources, including property and income taxes and interest income.
"As a school district, Bexley is very fortunate to be in the situation it is in now, but we anticipate losing revenue in the near future and we need to figure out how to address that issue," Essman said.
Bexley has managed to stretch its School District Income Tax levy, passed in 2004. Originally, that levy was supposed to last for five years; the district has managed its budget so that it will cover six years of operations.
"The Board will not ask the public for additional levy support until the spring of 2010, at the very earliest," Johnson said.
Based on information provided by the Ohio Department of Taxation in November 2008, Essman has had to recalculate the amount of revenue expected from the school district income tax. This revenue will decrease by a minimum of $780,000 and maximum of approximately $1.2 million, due to reductions in capital gains, lost jobs, reduced year-end bonuses and residents who have declared their primary residence outside of the school district.
Projections show the total impact on the district budget - due to these factors, as well as falling interest rates and state budget cuts - could be anywhere from $1.5 to $2.7 million.
"These are very sobering numbers and have caused the Board of Education to ask administrators to review the current spending patterns of the school district," Johnson said. "In the months ahead, I will be presenting a list of potential cuts to partially address the anticipated loss of revenue."
Meanwhile, the task force will review the income tax settlement history, consider possible cuts and help answer questions such as what type of levy the school district should place before the public. Johnson said the task force, like its 2003 predecessor, will help administrators determine how to make up for lost funding.
"Our experience shows that service on the task force doesn't necessarily require financial expertise," Johnson said. "Our Task Force members are regular people who care about our schools and our community."
Recently, the Board of Education has heard impassioned pleas from many residents and parents, concerning issues like all-day kindergarten, world language offerings, high school lacrosse and bowling teams, among others.
"Now is the time for residents to come forward and tell us what is most important to them, how we should prioritize our programs, our needs and wants," Johnson said about the upcoming task force meeting.
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