Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 10:08
PERRYSBURG - When Superintendent Tom Hosler finished adding up all the budgets numbers for the Board of Education Tuesday morning he came up with a deficit.
And everyone, including teachers and staff, will be called upon to help plug the gaping hole that the recession has created in the district's budget.
"Next year ... our goal is to reduce operating costs by as much as possible," he said. But that will not be enough.
"This will be an impact on our educational program," he said, "There's no way around it ... reduction in people will have to occur."
Hosler said later: "People really aren't going to like what we have to do."
The district is taking a hit because of reductions in state funding. The state officials, he said, announced that the district's state aid would be reduced by 1 percent this school year and 2 percent next school year, but that didn't reflect other changes that will also cost the district money.
While a budget stabilization payment of $585,237 was a separate fund, this year that was included in the decreased state aid figure,. That means that the district will be getting $670,300 less from the state this year and $753,662 less next year. Those amounts include federal stimulus funds which will run out in two years. "Without these dollars, state budget would not float," according to Hosler.
New state mandates are also in the offing, including mandatory all-day kindergarten, Hosler said. The district's enrollment is projected to increase with little space to grow, especially in the elementary schools.
This at a time when income tax collections fell $675,000 and real estate taxes fell $438,834 behind projected amounts in the most recent collections. On the expense side health care costs are expected to jump $626,771.
All that adds up to having $2.8 million less than originally projected.
The district is now "getting into the nitty gritty" of how it will find funds to stay in the black. Today the superintendent is meeting with principals and department heads, and discussions with the district's unions representing teachers and staff are in the offing. Both the Perrysburg Education Association and the Ohio Association Public Service Employees have contracts that run through next year. "Obviously we'd like to see them talk about concessions."
The biggest part of the district's budget is in personnel costs, salaries and benefits. The district needs, Hosler said, to keep those costs to 80 percent of its budget, which is especially difficult given the hikes in health insurance costs.
If nothing were done, he said, those costs would rise to 90 percent of the budget.
While it would be good to have any personnel reductions occur because of attrition, that's not likely. While the district has 27 teachers with 30 or more years in tenure, only three have so far indicated they will retire.
Still for all the talk of cuts, the district must maintain its focus on educational excellence, the superintendent said. "We want to keep the things that make Perrysburg a special place in terms of education."
When talking about cutting classes with low enrollment at the high school, for example, he specifically excluded Advanced Placement classes. The district is trying to get more students to take advanced courses.
The district has already identified $1.15 million in cuts, including eliminating two administrative positions and delaying $405,000 textbook purchases.
Newly elected Board President Mark Schoenlein asked if textbook purchases could be made through the capital improvement funds, which are separate from the general fund. Treasurer Matt Feasel said they could be.
Board member Walter Edinger said that Hosler needs to take his case directly to the state legislature "not just (State Rep.) Randy Gardner and (State Senator) Mark Wagoner ... We have the ear of Mark Wagoner. We have the ear of Randy Gardner. They get it. Other people need to hear it."