Dayton school board members and district employees listen to a financial report from Treasurer Hiwot Abraha (seated, front right) on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Superintendent: New financial data means Dayton won’t need levy as soon

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli has backed off her recent statement that Dayton Public Schools would pursue a tax levy in the near future, after end-of-year financial projections showed the district solidly in the black for 2017-18.

DPS Treasurer Hiwot Abraha told the school board Tuesday that the district will end up spending about $246 million from its general fund for the school year that is wrapping up, after projecting last fall that DPS would spend $263 million.

The majority of that $17.3 million difference comes in wages and benefits, where Dayton Public Schools now estimates it will spend $127 million, rather than the projected $140 million. Given adjustments in revenue, DPS is now projected to finish $20 million in the black for 2017-18.

“Wages were lower than planned in FY18 due to over 150 positions remaining unfilled,” Abraha wrote in her five-year financial forecast.

Lolli said the district is working to fill those positions, and will have to watch next year’s state budget process carefully because so much of DPS’ funding comes from the state foundation. But asked about her statement in early May that the district would likely seek a levy in the near future, Lolli said Tuesday, “We likely aren’t having that need.”

“With (Abraha’s) forecast, we are doing well,” Lolli said. “I’m not in a position to even say now that what I said two weeks ago is even correct any longer because I’ve seen the actual (financials) now. Two weeks ago we didn’t quite have the actuals.”