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Forecast calls for more cuts
At a recent meeting, the South-Western City Schools District Board of Education adopted an updated five-year forecast.
The last forecast was sent to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in October.
District Treasurer Hugh Garside explained the district is required to resubmit a forecast if the financial situation changes. Before the November levy passed, ODE put the district on fiscal caution status.
In November, the majority of voters approved a permanent 7.4-mill tax levy, which will generate approximately $18.5 million for South-Western. Garside said the district would also see additional revenue from pay-to-participate fees. This brings the district out of fiscal caution, but Garside warned that $15 million in cuts are still needed by 2013.
The school district receives roughly $90 million from the state of Ohio each year, though that amount is expected to decrease by 1 percent in 2010 and 2 percent in 2011.
District critics say the cuts in state funding are one more reason for district employees to make concessions.
“You need to spend taxpayer dollars responsibly,” said resident Cindy Legue.
During the meeting, Legue questioned district leaders on certain paid positions.
“What does a morning announcement coordinator get paid $200 to do,” she asked.
Legue said positions like this and others could be done by teachers or parent volunteers. She and other critics believe employees need to make additional sacrifices, beyond the agreed upon one-year freeze in base salaries.
The forecast model shows the district would spend approximately $114 million on salaries next year. That figure is down $2.4 million from 2006. The forecast shows expenditures on salaries increasing over the next five years due to step increases, which are based on national education trends. The model also shows a 2 percent pay increase after the year 2010.
Garside explained that about 81 percent of total expenditures go towards salaries and benefits. He said this is not an uncommon figure. The district spends about 64 percent of its operating dollars on salaries. The state average is 58 percent. South-Western is the seventh highest in Franklin County, sitting between Bexley and Grandview. South-Western spends about 20 percent of its total operating expenditures on fringe benefits, which is the fifth highest in the county. The state average is about 21 percent.
The district also spends about $9,335 each year per pupil, which is the third lowest in Franklin County. The average administrator (in South-Western) makes $84,545 a year.
State average is $71,477. The average teacher salary is $57,650; state average is $54,210.
District leaders have cut about 300 positions over the past three years and made $22 million in budget cuts. The district is slated to save $2.5 million over the next four years as it makes changes in health insurance.
In other business, the board of education approved the treasurer’s contract. Garside will not receive a salary raise, but will get a step increase bonus of $3,554 for performance.
His contract runs from Aug. 1 through July 31.
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