Financial forecast shows Poland schools spending more than they’re receiving

By Jordyn Grzelewski


The school district is projected to spend more money than it collects over the next several years.

That’s according to a five-year financial forecast put together by interim Treasurer Lori Posey, which was approved by the school board at a meeting Monday. The forecast, which the state requires school districts to do twice a year, projects expected general-fund revenues, expenditures and fund balances for fiscal years 2017-21.

Posey highlighted the trend, calling it a concern for the school district.

“We definitely need to pass all levies, any renewals that come up, and we need to review all expenses, with staff being the largest expense,” she said.

The trend began in fiscal year 2016, when the district spent $758,801 more than it received, according to Posey’s report.

This fiscal year, the district is projected to spend $468,103 more than it receives; in fiscal year 2018, that figure is $2,168,536; in 2019, it’s projected at $5,125,612; in 2020, it’s projected to be $7,598,139; and in 2021, expenditures are expected to exceed revenue by $8,912,151.

“This is the most important line on the five-year forecast; it is the gauge to a school district’s health,” Posey wrote in the forecast report. “Administration, working closely with the board of education, will continue to monitor the school district’s financial condition, implement spending reductions and continue to explore innovative ways to generate additional revenue for the school district in an attempt to prevent a continued decline in the available cash balances.”

The projected figures do not take into account several emergency levies that will be up for renewal in the next few years, but Posey noted that even if they pass, the district would still be spending more than it collects. Passage of those levies is “crucial,” she said.

Real-estate taxes make up 59 percent of the district’s projected operational revenue, while state funding makes up approximately 26.5 percent.

On the expenditure side, personnel-related expenses such as salaries and benefits make up the vast majority of projected spending, at approximately 72 percent. The next-highest spending category is purchased services, which make up about 17.7 percent of projected expenditures.

In other business, school counselors Lauren Mechling, Wendy Butch and Mary Jo Lukach were presented with honorable-mention awards by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization started by family members whose loved ones were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012. The award is for the school district’s participation in SHP’s “Start with Hello” program, which aims to end social isolation.

Poland was one of three school districts to win an honorable mention, of the roughly 600 that participated nationwide.

Start with Hello “really resonated with the students,” said Mechling. “We taught them small things they can do to make a difference in people’s lives.”