Boardman school officials more positive after levy passage
By Justin Wier
With the recent passage of a 5.8-mill emergency levy, Boardman School District’s five-year financial forecast avoids the sharp cuts the district discussed at a community meeting earlier this year.
“I feel a lot better now than I did two weeks ago,” said Nicholas Ciarniello, the district’s treasurer and chief financial officer.
Ciarniello presented a draft version of the five-year forecast to the school board at a special meeting Thursday.
With the additional $4.9 million generated by the levy, Ciarniello forecasted a positive cash balance through June 2022.
The levy helped the district weather the phase out of reimbursements from the discontinued tangible personal properties tax, a decrease in state funding and a near $1 million payment to Mercy Health.
The levy’s passage prevented the need to resort to “Plan B,” which would have led to $1 million in budget cuts, including eliminating 12 teaching positions.
“It gives us hope,” Superintendent Tim Saxton said. “I can look our second- and third-graders in the eye and know 10 years down the road when I’m handing them a diploma, they had the same opportunities as the kids that came before them.”
But “Plan A” advertised $522,000 in budget cuts through attrition as people retire or leave the district. Saxton said they actually realized $630,000 in savings.
Saxton said officials will continue to consider whether to replace people as they leave the district.
“[Replacement is] not automatic,” he said.
Ciarniello said the district’s financial stability also is contingent upon the renewal of its current levies – a 2.5-mill levy up for renewal in 2020 and two levies totaling 11.9 mills up for renewal in 2022. Ciarniello said a failure would be “catastrophic.”
About 68.7 percent of the district’s estimated $43.9 million budget comes from local tax revenue, and the remaining funds come from the state. Wages and benefits comprise 79 percent of the budget.
Ciarniello’s forecast assumes state funding will remain flat over the next five years.
In the meantime, Ciarniello said school officials also will consider more creative solutions to keep costs down. Opt-in busing was one potential option mentioned at Thursday’s meeting.
“We will stay diligent. We will keep costs down. We will take care of [the public’s] dollars,” Ciarnello said.