School officials in Springboro notified parents on Tuesday about three more whooping cough cases at the high school. The report, brought to four the number reported this year at the school and seven the number of cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, reported in Warren County, according to the Warren County Health District.
Photo: Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd

Springboro schools call special meeting to discuss financial forecast

“I’m concerned we are extremely close to being entirely out of cash,” Board Member Dan Gudz said after previewing the school district’s latest financial forecast.

On Thursday, the board approved the forecast, projecting the district will end the fiscal year with slightly more than $11 million in cash reserves.

This is about 20% of $53.8 million in 2019 expenses or roughly 50% of the reserve fund maintained by a typical Ohio school district, according to Ohio Board of Education data.

By comparison, in summer 2018, the median cash balance for Ohio school districts was 40% of a year’s expenditures.

In addition to the financial forecast, the board on Tuesday will discuss the work of a citizen task force that has been huddling since June over district finances, said Scott Marshall, the district’s communications coordinator.

RELATED: Springboro schools unready to project next levy try

District Treasurer Terrah Floyd gave the board the bad financial news on Oct. 29 during a presentation on the five-year forecast.

“We have and will continue to spend very conservatively. However, to maintain our current level of education, and in order to meet future expectations, we will need new money in the imminent future,” Floyd concluded.

Eight of Ohio’s 607 school districts spend less per student than Springboro schools, according to the District Profile Reports released annually by the Ohio Department of Education.

For 2017-18, which is the most current available statewide data, Springboro spent $8,589 per student, while the statewide median was $11,228.

During discussion of the cash crunch, the word ‘levy’ was never used.

In recent histroy, the school district has had a difficult time getting voters to approve property tax levies aimed at raising additional operating money.

In 2017, a substitute levy narrowly passed, ending a streak of five consecutive rejections of new money for the school district. Voters passed a renewal in 2013.

RELATED: Springboro school levy scores close win

The district will not place a tax levy seeking additional funds on the ballot for the March 17, 2020 election, officials said. Tomorrow is the deadline for delivering the resolution for the March election, and the board is not scheduled to meet until Tuesday.

During her Oct. 29 preview, Floyd explained the district was deficit spending to make ends meet.

“We are unable to meet the current and future needs of our students with our current resources,” she told the board, referring to the “dwindling cash balance reserves.”

For example, Floyd said, the district couldn’t afford to replace 18 buses or buy additional ones “to meet growing enrollment needs.” Instead, the district had resorted to leasing with interest.

In addition, Floyd said, the district was “unable to provide additional safety and security efforts districtwide.”

Still, the forecast projects the district’s cash will hold out until 2024.

MORE: For 1st time in 10 years, all local school levies pass

“We have such a little room for error,” Floyd said in response to board questions about the cash balance.

Board Member Lisa Babb congratulated staff on finding savings and urged continued efforts.

“I agree there is going to be a need for new money,” she added.

Board Member Dave Stuckey said new money would be needed “down the road.”

“We’re going to have a big challenge getting the community behind us. It’s going to have to be done,” he added.

Board President Jamie Belanger said the board needed to hear from the Finance Task Force, led by Floyd and David Conley, president of Rockmill Financial Consulting.

“In the near future, we’ll have recommendations coming out of that team,” he said

Staff writer Jeremy Kelley contributed to this report.

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