FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown Local Schools board of education meeting Monday night had a packed meeting room, as students from the Mount Vernon Nazarene University education program attended the meeting to gain an understanding of local education at work.
Treasurer Heather Darnold presented her updated five-year forecast to the board, and paid particular attention to the revenue versus expenditures aspect of the forecast. She explained that through the year 2022 revenues — the amount of money the district takes in, will continue to exceed expenditures — the amount of money the district spends. By 2023, however, expenditures are projected to exceed revenue by $58,079.
“The driving factor behind that, when you look line by line, is employee benefits,” Darnold said.
The benefits refer to insurance, Darnold explained, with the district going into the next year at $3,500 over the federal limit for single premiums, and with the family premium going over the federal limit next year as well. The penalty for that, she said, is 40 cents, per dollar, per employee, which is also known as the Cadillac tax. This tax is billed into the forecast in 2020, Darnold said, and billed all the way through.
“Even with going into the deficit spending, you can see that the district still maintains a healthy cash balance,” Darnold said.
Main sources of revenue for the district include property tax, and Darnold pointed out that the district is fortunate enough that over the last 15 years 99 percent of residents in the FLS district have paid their property taxes. However, she did point out that a decrease is built into the forecast as current agricultural use value (CAUV) is projected to go down. Enrollment is another driving force of revenue for the district, Darnold said. The district is currently up eight students overall.
“Overall, we’re still in a good position,” Darnold said.
“I do not like presenting the brackets for fiscal year 2023, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. And that could change as well, if any changes are made within our benefits package.”
She additionally reported finances for the month of August, which saw an increase in spending on salaries, pushing expenditures to exceed revenue for the month, particularly for coaches. Darnold explained that an additional $15,000 went to the fall athletic staff for the first quarter. Additional expenses included electricity, with more energy and money used to cool the buildings due to the hot temperatures well into October, and food supplies.
The district did receive a state Ohio School Safety grant worth a total of $6,842 for their school resource officer, Ronny Flynn, for safety and training measures. Darnold reported that Flynn has already signed up for three additional training events.
Superintendent Matthew Chrispin reported updates to the board from the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, or the Ohio Superintendent Association, which met Tuesday, and the committee discussed report card grades. The prepared for success component was particularly debated, with discussions focusing on expanding that component to include more aspects of students success like military enlistment and workforce commitments, according to Chrispin.
Graduation pathways still have no updates, Chrispin said. The state legislators should be receiving updated class of 2019 data, which essentially includes the number of students that will not graduate without the class of 2018 alternative pathways in place, Chrispin said.
“Will that light a fire under them to extend the pathways?” Chrispin asked. “We’re hoping. Everyone seems to think that’s the common sense thing to do, so we’ll see.”
The meeting also discussed possible changes to Ohio House Bill 410 on attendance mandates, which would push the districts to do more than juvenile court referrals. Chrispin reported that he feels they are realizing this was an “unfunded mandate,” that has put too much of a burden on schools.
Chrispin also reported that the parking lot in front of the administration building will be striped soon and the company that installed the track will be walking the track this week to identify and complete repairs.
Board member Patty Miller also discussed the graduation pathways during her legislative update. The State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education are looking at overhauling the graduation point system, she said, which would shift from test proficiency to achievement in five specified content areas, based on test performance, course completion or a final project.
Miller explained this could allow for some flexibility in the way that students can demonstrate their learning. A vote should come from the full state board in October or November, Miller said, which could prompt the legislators to consider enacting the recommendations.
“As we all know there is an election coming in November,” Miller said. “So if you care about these requirements and not penalizing teachers and kids for a bar that they’re not ready to meet yet, we need to get proactive in contacting our folks — Andrew Brenner is one of the ones you can contact. Rick Carfagna is another. I would strongly urge you to lend your voice, shoot them an email, they’re very accessible. I would really like them to step back and consider, not necessarily lowering the bar, but not eliminating pathways. So that we set kids up for failure, because I think the school districts are doing all they can to put things in place, but it has to be realistic. And right now I’m not sure that it is for all kids.”