School treasurer discusses finances and levy with Betterment
By Matt Echelberry
The guest speaker for the Galion Betterment Commission’s March 4 meeting was Terri Day, treasurer of Galion City Schools. She offered members a better understanding school finance and why the district is putting another tax levy on the May ballot. Last November, the ballot was for 8 mills, and this time around, the district is asking for 9.4 mills (8 mills for general operating and 1.4 mills for permanent improvements).
The primary reasons for the increase of millage is decreased state funding and the new property valuations that were released last fall. The valuations for the district went down, which significantly reduced overall revenue.
Day first went over the district’s revenue and expenditures from July 2012 through December 2012. According to her, 70 percent of the revenue comes for the state, 25 percent from the local share and the remaining 5 percent consists of donations and miscellaneous income.
In expenditures, a total of $8 million was spent in the 6 month time frame: 51 percent went to personnel, 22 percent to benefits and retirement, 19 percent to purchased services, 3 percent to materials, supplies and capital expenditures and 5 percent in miscellaneous costs.
Day said they overspent $415,000 so far this fiscal year, and she estimated $335,000 in overspending. While administration has been trying to stop deficit spending by making budget cuts, cuts alone are not enough. In a chart showing general operating finances since 2009, the year end balance has decreased each year. The chart showed deficit spending of $148,000 in 2011 and $472,000 in 2012.
“At the end of this year we’ve estimated we will only carry $545,000, which means that next year if we deficit spend as much as we did this year, we’ll be in the negative,” Day concluded.
In terms of state funding, the district will receive about $10 million, according to the new budget, but Day emphasized that they do not know for sure how much the district will receive. While it would be a slight increase compared to previous years, Day maintained that it would not be enough revenue to close the gap.
Superintendent Kathy Jenney added that Galion City Schools is too dependent on state funding, as the Governor has indicated that the state’s share should only be 50 percent. Jenney said the district must increase the local share in order to stabilize the budget.
If the tax levy repeal in 2007 did not pass, Jenney said with the reductions that have been made the district would have stayed within its budget. She went on to say that concessions have been made, but they cannot continue to make cuts at employee expense. The district needs to remain competitive salary wise, as 12 people retire this year, and they anticipate about the same for next year.
When asked what else might be cut, Jenney said she is still working with the Board of Education on details. “We have cut and negotiated every year that I have been superintendent, since 2007. Many of the cuts we made were prudent and we needed to make them. Last year, I felt that we started to cross that line where we went too far.”
For example, she said cutting staff in art, music and physical education was not practical for education. The schools have also been using styrofoam plates in the cafeteria because of reductions in food service staff.
Jenney explained that administration would study the long-term effects of cutting things like pay to participate and transportation. However, she said when extensive cuts were made in 2005 and 2006, the district lost more students and revenue than was gained by making the reductions.
Day said that, with the forthcoming change of local government, there could be a new outlook for the city. “If we want to draw more people and businesses into the community, one of the first things they will look at is the local schools,” Day commented. She added that the new buildings are a huge draw and the programming offered is cutting edge.
One example includes the new One-to-One Program, in which all students have access to a laptop or electronic tablet, which Jenney said is allowing them to stretch the budget, because courses can still be offered without a staff member.
Also, digital coursework has stabilized enrollment. This is important because Day reported that about 100 students do open enrollment or home schooling and about $1 million is lost each year to open enrollment alone.
“Education is a business now and we need to market ourselves,” Day commented. Jenney agreed, saying they are willing to speak to other local groups and organizations as well about the levy.
After the presentation, Betterment members gave updates. The Chamber of Commerce’s annual Forecast Breakfast is March 13 at the Free Methodist Christian Life Center. Please RSVP by calling the Chamber at 419–468-7737. Also, Craig Smith RV Center has finished its remodel and a new specialty shop is moving into the Uptowne District soon.
The City of Galion still has plenty of road salt for this season and improvements continue to be made to the Water Treatment Plant. The Galion YMCA is wrapping up the Capital Campaign, a fundraiser to make facility improvements and expansion. Executive Director Terry Gribble said they are currently at $610,500 in promised donations and is confident they will hit the $750,000 goal.
Galion Hospital Auxiliary has many upcoming events, including a book fair on March 15, when the hospital gift shop will also offer discounts. The group is in the final weeks for raising money for the hospital for the year. Auxiliary President Patty Rice-Groth said if $50,000 is hit, the Auxiliary will have raised $2 million in donations to date.
Galion Community Theatre will hold auditions soon for “Calamity Jane,” its next show.
The Galion Health Department is one of ten health departments in Ohio participating in a pilot to bill private insurance. Plenty of vaccinations are still available.
In an update from the Ministerial Association, Lenten services are ongoing. The Generational Poverty Committee is developing ideas for programs and Crossroads Church in Mansfield is launching a satellite church in Galion; the first service is on Easter Sunday at Galion High School.
Galion Public Library has many upcoming events, including a Mythbusters activity for kids on March 7, 1–4 p.m. and the annual chess tournament on March 23. The Kiwanis Club is beginning its annual rose sale.
Galion City Schools has five swimmers who qualified for the state competition and two wrestlers competed in the state finals over the weekend. On April 17 Pioneer students, as well as all of the Galion juniors and seniors, are doing a community service day. Call or email Kathy Jennery for suggestions of projects that students could do.
Golden Age Center has its Spring Bazar on March, from 9 a.m. — 3 p.m., and Homecare Matters’ Celebrity Waiter Dinner is April 23, at William Crawford Intermediate School.
United Way has its annual meeting on March 21 at Bucyrus Community Hospital. Covert Manufacturing, United Bank and Crossroads Designs have been named as the organization’s pacesetter businesses for the year.
Betterment Commission’s next meeting is April 1 at 12 p.m., in the cafeteria board room of Galion Community Hospital.