Kent’s City School board postpones finalizing its five-year forecast due to the adoption of Ohio’s fair school funding plan during Tuesday’s board meeting.
The boards’ five-year forecast examines three years of historical financial data, information from the current fiscal year and financial projections for the next four years.
“The whole idea of a five-year forecast is so forms of education can be sort of having their eye on the finances for the current fiscal year and four years in the future so that they can see what’s ahead,” said Deborah Krutz, the board’s treasurer.
The board typically finalizes the forecast each October. However, the board can’t project future numbers because they haven’t yet received future funding from the state. Kent plans on adopting the fair school funding plan in July ahead of the 2022-2023 school year.
Everything that changes under Ohio’s Fair School Funding plan. Sourced here.
“It’s supposed to be a formula based upon your enrollment and students and cost. But so many school districts were on a guarantee that they wanted to make a formula and also provide some growth and revenue for schools so that they can get some more state funding,” she said. “Now, the jury is still out on whether we will get any new, additional funding. But at least for the next two years, there’s a guarantee of a minimum amount.”
The new plan gives districts provides planability to prevent closures and increases funding for classroom instruction without raising rates for taxpayers. Kent city schools superintendent George Joseph reflects on the changes.
“I’m thrilled that we are trying to improve the system. The system, the way it was, was proven to not work, but yet we still used it. And even legislation said, it’s unfair, hence the fair school funding, because what we’re using wasn’t fair,” he said. So again, the positive is there’s a change and an attempt to make a positive change rather than just to do what we’ve always done, even if it didn’t work.”
Krutz provided information on what the board plans to include in the forecast based on historical data. These highlights are as follows:
- Kent City Schools have been flatfunded for the last two years due to the pandemic.
- State funding was cut $561,000 for fiscal year 2020 and $251,000 for fiscal year 2021.
- This fiscal year, the district had an increase in unrestricted grants with a decrease of all other grants and funding due to open enrollment.
- The district saved money in utilities and other operation costs due to remote instruction.
- The district will purchase two school buses with local funding.
- Deficit spending has been avoided since fiscal year 2015.
- The district is forecasting entering a $54,000 deficit but cash reserves will carry over.
Other highlights from the meeting include:
- COVID update – case numbers have stalled for the past four weeks while the district has begun vaccinating children ages five – 11 years old.
- A parent spoke in disaproval of the district’s mask policy. “We can’t live like this forever and neither can our kids.” she said. “Forcing kids to wear a medical device is borderline child abuse.”
- Personell changes – Pat Harper plans to retire at the end of the school year following 22 years working in the district.
The school board meeting can be heard in full here.