By Randa Wagner
It’s hard to have a hopeful new year when your operating levy doesn’t pass.
The Northmor School District’s financial situation was a primary point of discussion at the January 9 board meeting, and Supt. Dr. Brent Winand left no doubt about where the district stands.
“Since 2009, we have lost over $715,00 in revenue, which came from the federal, state and local level,” Winand told the board and those in attendance. “We know, because of the State of Ohio biennial budget, that we receive zero additional dollars this year and next. We have cut $770,000 from our budget to try to stay ahead of the cuts we’ve had.”
He noted the State of Ohio Auditor’s office has been complimentary of the Northmor district for the efforts they have made in light of the cuts they have been forced to deal with.
“The Ohio School Boards Association was also complimentary of what we’ve tried to do to keep our head above water,” Winand added, “but we can’t forget the situation that we’re in.”
He cited the $770,000 that the district cut represents almost six percent of their expendable budget, and the loss of teachers, coaching positions, and administrators is the only way they continue to balance the budget.
“We have no choice but to finish the year in the black,” Winand said, referring to state law. “We must do that and the only way to do that is to cut. In the long run, it means larger class sizes, older school buses, less technology purchases, and all the things that go into making a budget. It’s a serious situation.”
Treasurer Tina Gabler said she ran reports, with December being the halfway point in the school’s budget.
“In a perfect world, everything would be at 50 percent at this point,” Gabler said. “Well, we’re close - but we’re not exact. I’ve received half our income tax at this point, and it’s down $35,000 from where I projected. That tells me we’re no longer increasing on our income tax.”
Also down, she noted, is Northmor’s foundation payment that comes twice a month from the state.
“Our unrestricted portion of those funds (that can be spent on electric, salaries, insurance, etc.) is down $52,000,” Gabler explained. “What they did do was our restricted grants (monies earmarked for certain uses) is up by $104,000. That doesn’t help, though, when it comes to paying the bills and salaries.”
The district’s property tax allocation at this halfway point is up about $14,000 and the ‘miscellaneous’ is up about $13,000, she said. Altogether, the general revenue is up about $44,000 total. The timber check (from the trees on the property being harvested) was about $30,000.
“So, the total revenue for the end of December (the second quarter) is up $70,000 - but keep in mind $30,000 of that was the lumber check,” Gabler reiterated. “It’s encouraging because it shows we have more money; it’s discouraging - meaning we’re tightening our belts and making cuts, and I’m telling everybody ‘no’ when they ask for additional items.”
Those ‘additional items’ include projected purchases, teachers salaries and purchased services, supplies and materials, and equipment. Gabler said they have trimmed their budget by $160,000, but that’s by saying ‘no’ to anything additional.
“We’re still doing business and still educating the kids,” she said of the situation. “We are very fortunate that we have a permanent improvement account , which was passed when we built the new building. We did half of percent for permanent improvement and half a percent for maintenance, which was required by the state.”
She said $164,000 has been spent since July from the permanent improvement account for specific items.
“We have money left over from the building project, but it cannot be used for salaries or bills,” Gabler explained. “We can equip the building with textbooks, computer licenses, things that the district needs. We have spent $203,000 from that account since July 1. The maintenance account can be used for maintenance-related items but no consumables. We have spent $111,000 from that account since July 1.”
The money spent out of those accounts would have, prior to those accounts, come from our general fund.
“Without these three accounts, we wouldn’t have been able to do any of that – our general fund could not sustain that,” she stated. “Our general fund – to close the month of December – has about $250,000 in it. That’s not enough money to cover one payroll.”
Gabler said items teachers need such as extra paper and supplies can’t be purchased with monies from the three accounts that have funds in them. Those expenses have to come out of the general fund.
“We’re making cuts, but we’re not out of the woods by any means,” she said. “At some point, the LFI (locally funded initiative) account is going to dry up, and we’re spending more out of the permanent improvement and maintenance funds than what we’re bringing in each year. Those funds get replenished somewhat with real estate, but we’re spending way more each year than what we’re bringing in. So if we keep this up, we’re eventually going to deplete those accounts as well.”
The ‘short and long of it all’
“The awkward thing is, obviously, the voters said ‘no’ in November, and that’s the only route we have to turn to, other than cuts,” said Supt. Winand. “So we’re making the cuts and I want to emphasize that the additional $160,000 that Tina mentioned is in addition to the $770,000 that I mentioned. That takes us to $930,000.”
He stated ultimately, the Northmor District is going to have a problem.
“Is it appropriate for us to say we don’t want these children to have software that’s available today? We can’t buy textbooks that are available today? That’s where we’re at – those are the things that we’re facing. We have to mention this because if (the board) decides to be on the May ballot, it would have to be decided before Feb. 5, 2014. If you decide not to be, we continue to make cuts and try to look at the November ballot. Tina and I want to make sure the board understands that the spiral is downward in terms of what we can provide for the students. We must balance the budget, and that’s what we’re working to do.”
Board Member Carlyle Smith commented he believes the board should wait until August to consider a levy. New board member Richard Smith agreed, asking if the board has done everything they can do before they go back to the voters. There was a general consensus that the board should wait until later in the year.
During the organizational meeting held at the beginning of the meeting, Treasurer Tina Gabler gave the oath of office to board members Carlyle Smith, Dan Sipes and newly-elected Richard Smith. Dan Sipes was voted as board president for 2014, and Jeff Whisler was selected as vice president.
Monthly board meetings will continue to be held the third Thursday of the month at 7 pm in the Northmor Board of Education meeting room in the former Northmor High School Building.
The board established a Service Fund for the Board of Education to use for professional meetings and established the total amount of $3,000 to be placed in this fund.
The board accepted tax rates and amounts from the Morrow County Auditor.
Treasurer Tina Gabler was authorized to:
* Request advances on local taxes as available and needed.
* Pay all bills as they are presented provided funds are available and to report monthly to the Board of Education those bills that have been paid.
*Invest inactive funds in Certificates of Deposit in the eligible bank or banks submitting the highest rate of interest for each proposed investment or invest in Treasury Bills or Notes or Star Ohio in compliance with the applicable statutes.
Superintendent Brent Winand was authorized to:
* Act as Purchasing Agent for the Northmor Local School District and assigned the Superintendent the responsibility for the quality and quantity of purchases made. The primary guidelines governing this responsibility are that all purchases fall within the framework of budgetary appropriations and that they be consistent with the approved educational goals and programs of the district.
* Employ temporary personnel as needed. Such employments will then be presented for approval by the board at their next regular meeting.
* Accept written resignations between Board Meetings as needed. Such resignations will then be presented for approval by the Board at the next meeting.
* Appoint building secretaries to be responsible for collecting and preparing deposits of moneys from their buildings.
* Discussion of, and appointment to, Board Committees.
Regular Meeting Highlights
The board approved revisions made to the Depository Agreement with First-Knox National Bank, Division of Park National Bank dated November 27, 2012 through November 26, 2014.
First Knox met with Tina Gabler and, as the economy and their banking procedures have changed, certain items such as interest rates, fees and required balances were changed. A discussion over different banks, minimum balances and interest rates ensued. Gabler has been looking into different options and has not made any decisions yet.
A donation from Billie Shenefield in the amount of $800.00 to the FFA in the names of Casey and Sammie Shenefield was accepted by the board.
The board of the North Central Ohio Computer Cooperative Service Provider Contract, through which the district receives all Internet Access (not to exceed $40,276.60) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) (not to exceed $7,100). This is not an increase from the previous year and includes all finance, internet and phone services.
The board approved policy IGDK, which deals with eligibility and participation in extracurricular activities. The language of the current policy, specifically dealing with eligibility and ineligibility. The new policy stated a students’ eligibility and ineligibility goes into effect as soon as grades are posted, listing a specific date.
Additionally, club sports must also adhere to the same policy.
“This was brought to my attention about a month ago,” said Winand, “At that time, I said I support the concept but I think it’s appropriate to do it at the end of the year, over the summer. Because of the number of calamity days we’ve had, the period of eligibility or ineligibility has been extended somewhat significantly and, if we’re talking eligibility or ineligibility for a fall sports… the grading period ends in May. This helps create a more level playing field.”
The hazing/anti hazing policy was updated to include, “Hazing and/or bullying are prohibited on school property, at all school events and in any school transportation vehicles including school buses.”
January is school board member appreciation month and Winand acknowledged the work of the board on the district’s behalf.
A special meeting will be held Tuesday, January 21 at 7 pm in the Board of Education meeting room.
The next regular board meeting will be held Thursday, February 20 at 7 p.m. in the Board of Education meeting room.