By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
The financial forecast for Findlay City Schools has again improved, but the district is still projected to end the current fiscal year in deficit spending.
That deficit is $919,838 in Treasurer Mike Barnhart’s latest calculations, presented Monday to the school board, down from $1.5 million in the January forecast.
It’s “a much more favorable forecast,” he said, though “there’s still some work to be done.”
Despite the deficit spending, the district is expected to have a carryover balance of about $9.3 million at the end of this fiscal year.
Barnhart attributed the forecast improvement to better than expected property tax collections, shifting some spending to the district’s permanent improvement fund, and an assumption that there will be 21 fewer employees in fiscal year 2019. Barnhart also cited a new electricity rate agreement expected to save $200,000.
Superintendent Ed Kurt said after the meeting he was not certain which positions would be eliminated, but it will happen through attrition as much as possible. The forecast says there will be 10 fewer teaching positions and 11 fewer administrative and support staff positions.
Barnhart said state funding is “much of the reason why we’re in the situation we are. In the past, we’ve had substantial increases in state funding.”
State funding in the fiscal year totals $24.8 million, up $102,488 from fiscal year 2017. Funding is projected to increase by $57,620 in fiscal year 2019.
“As the population of Findlay City Schools is declining, we’re tightening our belt and doing what we think is necessary in order to make sure that we don’t hurt students,” board member Susan Russel said. “We want to make sure the students still receive the best education possible in the district, but yet we need to be efficient in how we offer that, and effective in how we offer that.”
The school board’s finance committee, of which Russel is a member, has been meeting every month, she said.
Separately, the board approved a handbook on Chromebook policies. All students in grades three, six and nine will receive a device in the fall.
The district will be self-insuring, with a $25 fee per device per year, technology director Martin White said. If a repair is required, a $10 fee for labor will be assessed. The Chromebooks cost about $250 each.
A class is being created at Millstream Career Center that will allow students to learn about computer repairs.
The Chromebooks will be collected at the end of the school year and given back to the same students in the fall.
“The students that are taking really good care of their devices, they get the same device back. Kids that are not doing so great, they get the same device back. So we’re trying to be equitable about that across the entire district,” White said.
Findlay City Schools will continue rolling out Chromebooks to students in grades three, six and nine each year until all students have devices.
Chromebooks are also available to school board members.
Separately, the board accepted grants from the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation totaling about $77,000 for a variety of projects throughout the district.