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Reality check

By Carol McIntire

The financial picture painted by Carrollton Schools Treasurer Roxanne Mazur at the October meeting wasn’t of sunny skies and flowers.
Rather it was one of a crystal ball that, when peered into, shows uncertainty.

Mazur said the district is in a pattern of deficit spending (spending more money tham it brings in) which leads to “no money in the bank.”

While presenting her five-year forecast, she advised the board to pay special attention to a line that shows the cash balance at the end of the fiscal year.

“This line helps determine the fiscal health of the district,” she said. “Fiscal health is determined by calculating how many ‘true days cash’ the year end balance represents. Sixty days is considered healthy for that year but not necessarily optimal if the trend is continuing downward. As of June 30, 2011 we had 103 true days cash. Fiscal year 2012 was down to 82 and fiscal year 2014 is forecasted to be down to 69 days.”

She said the district cannot wait until it is out of money to address a deficit spending problem. “The sooner you address the problem, the softer the cuts. The longer you wait the deeper the cuts need to be,” she advised.

Superintendent Dr. David Quattrochi took that opportunity to present changes to the fee schedule and cuts in staff if voters do not approve a five-year 5.3 mill operating levy at the Nov. 5 general election.

His recommendations to the board include increasing technology fees, reducing the staff through attrition and cutting an administrator.

“I only make recommendations to the board on cuts,” he noted. “They are the ones who take action. I am making my recommendations tonight in case the levy fails. I don’t expect the board to act tonight, but I also want people to know what the cuts will be before school starts next year.”

He noted the district cut about $500,000 in expenses last year and he hopes to save about $500,000 more with these cuts.

“We have to take the necessary steps to reduce spending,” he said. “With a reduction in staff comes more children in a classroom. We are going to try to make the cuts without closing any buildings next year. I feel pretty secure in saying all the buildings will be open next year.”

He plans to present a detailed reduction plan for the board’s consideration at the March 2014 meeting.

Board member Helen Skinner noted there is legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives that, if passed, will forgive the indebtedness of districts if they consolidate with another district. “Too many districts are going bankrupt and the state has to take them over and that is not what they want to do,” she said.

With tears in her eyes, Board President Rose Seck said she hopes the community will approve the levy so the school district can “continue the wonderful programs going on in the schools.”

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