Listen

CCS Budget For Upcoming School Year Up In The Air

May 14, 2020

Credit WCBE files

Faced with uncertaintly about the upcoming school year, districts around the state are closing their books on fiscal year 2019-2020. 

A Columbus City Schools committee heard Wednesday that next year's budget is very much up in the air. Alison Holm reports.

Columbus City Schools treasurer Stan Bahorek says the district's general fund ending balance for fiscal year 2019-2020 is just about meeting last summer's predictions - despite a pandemic  that has closed schools across the state. While state revenues are down 1.8 million dollars, expenditures have gone down by 1.7 million. And Bahorek says that drop nearly equals the built-in cushion in the district budget.

"We're going to manage our way through it. We do have a cash balance, we have a practice of being conservative in our forecasting and budgeting, so all in all, it hasn't triggered any knee-jerk reaction from us - as of yet."

But Bahorek says future state budget cuts -  which are a near certainty - leave next year's funding still in the air. He says a delay in the state  reimbursement of the property tax allocation will probably resolve itself later this month, in time to wrap up this fiscal year about 2 million dollars over anticipated revenue.  But the unprecedented unemployment rate may have an effect on people's ability to pay property taxes. And the county's decision to move collection of property taxes from June to August means the district won't know what to expect.

"The state may not be making a statement about FY '21 until maybe September or  October  once they see more about how the state budget is going. So we may be entering next school year with still two major uncertainties on the revenue side."

Bahorek says one of the positives of the balance sheet for the fiscal year that is ending has been state dollars for Student Wellness and Success Funding, the so-called "wrap-around services" approved by Governor DeWine last year. By redirecting some personnel costs - salaries  and benefits - to that fund, he says the district will come out about even for the year. But that revenue - as  with all funding in future state budgets - remains uncertain.