October 20, 2014

Medina
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Buckeye Schools removed from fiscal caution

Administrators at Buckeye Schools in York Township are breathing a little easier after the state announced it was lifting the district’s fiscal caution status earlier this week.

The district, which was placed on fiscal caution in 2009, passed a 7.9-mill property tax levy in August, the first new money issue voters approved in 18 years.

“When we passed the levy, it was a matter of time for the state to certify our five-year forecast and lift the caution,” Superintendent Brian Williams said. But announcing to the community that the state recognizes the district’s stronger financial outlook was worth celebrating, he said.

“The impact for us is a fiscal picture that’s in the black for the next five years. That’s what we’re most excited about,” Williams said.

The district announced the lifting of fiscal caution status at its board of education meeting on Tuesday night. Williams said getting out from under the burden of fiscal caution also means less state paperwork for the treasurer’s office.

“We had to supply additional reports to the Department of Education, certifying our funds, certifying what we’re doing to address our budget shortfalls,” Williams said. “This means our treasurer’s department will be freed up to address other issues in the district.”

But that doesn’t mean the district plans to take its eye off finances. Williams said he promised voters he would watch the money closely and he said that means maintaining the district at the current spending levels.

“We told voters we would simply maintain what we have in place,” he said. “If the levy had failed, there would have been a drastic plan in place with 47 cuts.”

The levy is expected to bring in an additional $3.2 million annually, but it won’t allow for more spending, as the additional money only will prevent the district from going into deficit spending.

Because the levy was only expected to shore up the budget, Williams said there won’t be many changes for students. But he warned that an increase in staff retirements this spring could mean a few more teachers in school buildings when classes start in the fall.

Williams said the district has a number of experienced, higher-paid teachers retiring, and the district plans to hire new, less costly teachers in an effort to add a few more staff positions for the same price.

“We think we can hire three or four new teachers at the same dollar amount to reduce class sizes,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.