Findlay schools’ financial forecast improves, but levy may be coming

By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

Despite an improved five-year forecast that incorporates some money-saving strategies, a new levy could be in the Findlay School District’s future, Treasurer Mike Barnhart told the school board at its meeting Monday.

The new forecast assumes that some staff who retire or take jobs in other districts will not be replaced, and that textbook costs will be paid for with permanent improvement funds rather than general fund money.

“We’re going to be protecting programs and students as much as possible,” Barnhart said.

The latest forecast projects a positive cash balance through fiscal year 2020. The old one anticipated a deficit of $7,732,556 that year.

Deficits in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 are now projected at $3,263,879 (down from $17,242,177) and $8,649,113 (down from $27,873,227).

“I don’t see the state coming to our rescue,” Barnhart said.

The district may need to consider a new levy in a few years, with collection starting in January 2020, he said.

Board President Shane Pochard, whose term ends at the end of this year, said he will not be on the board then, but, “I think we need to look at getting our own house in order before we would ever go back to the voters and ask for more money.”

Separately Monday, Findlay Education Association co-President Angela Dittman pointed out that the district’s substitute costs are not entirely for teachers.

“I just wanted to make it clear to the board, and the community, that that $1.1 million (annual figure) that we keep referring to is not teachers,” Dittman said. “That is all of Renhill.”

Renhill Group is a Toledo-based company that provides substitute staff.

That includes non-teaching staff, and some aides who are hired through Renhill, Dittman said.

Monday’s meeting included the district’s annual “retreat,” when administrators provide updates on all buildings, preschool through high school, and the Findlay Learning Center and Millstream Career Center. Students in Millstream’s culinary arts program provided food.

Principals focused on leadership, relationships and technology in their presentations.

Schools are implementing the habits from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” through a variety of methods, including leadership teams of students, morning town halls led by students, and conferences in which students explain to their parents whether they are meeting their goals.

Several principals mentioned reductions in behavior issues and attributed the decrease to the implementation of the habits.

Administrators emphasized the importance of relationships, both with students and their families, and with community partners.

Washington Preschool teachers and aides do home visits to every family, special needs supervisor Kathy Young said.

“We want to touch every family that’s joining Washington Preschool,” she said.

At Lincoln Elementary, fifth-grade students receive financial literacy education through Fifth Third Bank’s Young Bankers Club.

Buildings have begun receiving Chromebooks ahead of the district’s effort to get one device for each student.

Students in grades three, six and nine will receive Chromebooks at the start of the 2018-2019 school year, and the rollout will continue each year with those grades until all students have the $250 laptops.

Chamberlin Hill Intermediate students have been reading to seniors at Birchaven Village via Google Hangouts, which offers video chatting.

Students are using Chromebooks to do their own research “in a way that benefits their own learning styles without me lecturing,” said Becky Biesiada, a language arts teacher at Donnell Middle School.

“They might be watching a video on direct objects. They might be playing a game on subordinate clauses,” she said.

Rubright: 419-427-8417
Send an E-mail to Kathryne Rubright
Twitter: @kerubright



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