Dayton Public Schools says finances are relatively good

District projects major shortfall in four years, but layoffs post-ESSER won’t happen.

Dayton Public Schools is projecting a budget deficit in each of the next four years in its five-year forecast that was approved on Monday, but board members said the district is financially healthy.

Board member Joe Lacey, a member of the finance committee, said the five-year forecast shows the district out of money by the 2027-2028 school year.

“That is better than last year,” Lacey said. “And it is no worse than of the any 16 years I’ve been on the board.”

District treasurer Hiwot Abraha said the district is in better shape than comparative districts who have needed to make cuts after federal COVID-19 funds given to schools, called ESSER funds, have started to run out. All ESSER funding must be spent by September.

Abraha noted that the 370 employees who were being paid for by ESSER funds are now being paid for by general funds, so they won’t be cut.

Trotwood announced cuts earlier this month as ESSER money ran out. Centerville and Northmont are among the districts who have tried to pass levies in recent years and announced cuts because the levy failed.

“We’ve seen all around the state and all around the country, a lot of districts as we’re talking about getting off of ESSER, move immediately to getting rid of people in education, planning, special programs and such,” said DPS board president Will Smith.

Dayton Public expects to spend about $212.6 million in this year’s budget.

The rising costs in the next four years are primarily from paying school employees, according to the forecast. The district projects $103 million in staff salaries and benefits in the 2023-2024 school year, but by the 2027-2028 school year, that number is expected to rise to more than $145 million.

The Dayton Education Association, which represents teachers, has a contract in place until June 30, 2025, while Dayton’s paraprofessionals have a contract until June 30, 2026. The results of those negotiations could impact the budget.

The amount of money the district receives from property taxes is also expected to rise, though not as significantly as the staff salaries and benefits. Dayton Public got roughly $60 million from property taxes in 2023-2024, according to the five-year forecast, and that collection is expected to rise to about $63 million by the 2027-2028 school year.

Dayton Public gets most of its funding from the state, however, and it’s not clear how the state’s next budget cycle will go.

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