Fairborn schools no longer in fiscal caution

The district was notified late last month by the Ohio Department of Education that the final step — being removed from the state’s website as having a fiscal caution designation — was completed.

Fairborn had been in fiscal caution since Jan. 14, 2013.

“It’s great news,” Treasurer Nicole Marshall said. “We’re fiscally solvent. A big part of it is the cuts that we’ve made and the increase in state revenue. We’re not looking at a projected deficit anymore.”

The district made “millions” of dollars in cuts over the last several years, according to school board president Tess Little. That figure includes reductions in personnel and classroom material, Marshall said.

But an increase in state funding — beginning in 2014 and projected at least through 2017 — also has helped the district get out of the red. About 43 percent of Fairborn’s budget is from state funding, Marshall said.

“The expenditure reductions and/or revenue enhancements enacted and implemented … should eliminate the potential for deficits in the current and next fiscal years,” the letter from the state said.

The school board is expected to approve a new five-year forecast Thursday morning. It shows a projected positive balance of $8.64, $10.5, $12.37, $12.61 and $10.98 million for fiscal years 2015-19, respectively.

Those estimates are based on a renewal levy passing in 2017, with collections starting in 2018. Marshall said a levy seeking additional operating money is not planned at this point.

School districts are required by law to submit a five-year forecast twice a year. A five-year forecast reflects three years of expenditures, as well as a forecast of the current fiscal year and four additional fiscal years.

A Fairborn resident who owns a $100,000 home pays $1,016 a year in taxes to the school district, according to Greene County auditor David Graham.

Little said the board will evaluate if any programs could be restored, in addition to taking the necessary steps with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to examine the possibility of new buildings.

“The board, administration and teachers are being stewards to do what we need to do to make us solvent and healthy again,” Little said. “It’s been difficult, but we’ve made it.”

Fairborn’s total expenditures for this year are projected to be $41.6 million. The district recently received an award from the state auditor’s office for having a clean audit in 2014.

Fairborn voters last passed a levy for increased funding in May 2007. Fairborn voters rejected an 11.7-mill emergency levy by a 2-to-1 margin in May 2013 — the most recent issue on the ballot for new money.

Fairborn has an enrollment of about 4,200 students.