ROSSFORD – The board of education discussed concerns over future funding of the school district as the coronavirus pandemic erodes future income.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the meeting was held online via Zoom.
Treasurer James Rossler reported that his new five-year forecast has changed to reflect the reduction of income predicted due to the COVID pandemic.
He said the amount of cuts to the State Foundation funding was uncertain, although it would certainly be significantly more severe than previous years. At this point, the school district had already seen $359,000 in cuts to funding.
Rossler said that while the governor’s office had done an across-the-board 3.7% cut to school foundation payments, wealthier districts such as Rossford took a deeper 12% cut. As a result, their five-year forecast prediction has been seriously impacted.
He said that break even spending versus income would end by 2021, when originally, the predicted deficit spending would not to occur until the 2024 fiscal year. His figures are based on an expected 25% reduction in foundation funding which means $750,000 fewer dollars coming from the state.
Rossler said that the school’s sizable carryover balance of $27 million would help defray the shortfalls, but “at $2 million dollars a shot, that fund will go down fast.”
Other problems he was foreseeing were reductions in taxes from businesses such as the casino. Last year, the school garnered $80,000 from casino revenue, but they have already seen a 25% reduction from that source.
Rossler also said he is predicting a 4% delinquency rate for real estate tax payments, based his on rates of delinquency during the 2008 recession.
The costs for personal protection equipment, equipment for mass temperature scanning, and devices to enforce social distancing when on the buses or in school will also have to be included in the financial forecast.
Superintendent Creps said that while so much of what they can plan for the next school year is dependent on guidance from the governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health, they are doing what they can to move forward.
He said that Gov. Mike DeWine did say that he will allow local control of decisions on how to keep students and staff safe and that DeWine supported the idea of all students being able to come to the school campus.
“But,” he said, “we have to decide how.”
Creps said at this point they plan on keeping to the current school calendar but transportation was highly problematic. For example, the bus drivers on the 15 routes would not be able to wear face masks or visors because they would limit visibility.
As to school scheduling, they are also considering a hybrid method that would have 50% of the students on campus on certain days. But Creps said that could be a logistical nightmare for families who would have to find child care on days when their student was not at school.
For grades six to 12, they are considering ways to limit students’ movements from class to class by having them take the same class five days a week. In case they had to go to remote learning, the district had in place an online teaching practice which meets Ohio Department of Education guidelines. To make it easier for parents to access records, they are streamlining the school’s online educational platforms.
Creps said the school was actively planning for cleaning and sanitizing the buildings and buses and are developing protocol should a student show symptoms. They are waiting for health department guidelines as to whether everyone will have to wear masks.
He said the school is also arranging for social workers and crisis counselors to help everyone deal with their concerns about COVID.
Creps also congratulated the graduating class of 2020. Valedictorian for the class was Katherine McMillan and Salutatorian was Samantha Mikonowicz. He thanked all the faculty and the staff for their work to make the graduation activities successful and rewarding.
In other action, the board accepted the resignation of Vicki Swartz, from Rossford Elementary.