July 31, 2014

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Lorain school district predicts budget surplus

LORAIN — Two years ago, Lorain Schools faced huge deficits and an imminent state financial takeover, but the school district’s new five-year financial forecast is sunnier.
“I’m showing some positive numbers for the first time in a long time,” Treasurer Dale Weber told Board of Education members at their Tuesday meeting.

Weber said Lorain will start the school year next week with a $1.8 million surplus, which includes a $600,000 carryover surplus from the 2012-13 school year. The surplus plunges to a projected $11,000 for the 2014-15 school year. That’s largely because of repaying borrowing costs for a $3 million loan taken out after passage of a seven-year levy in November that raises $3.12 million annually. The surplus rises to a projected $2.4 million in 2015-16 and $1.8 million in 2016-17.

The financial rebound has been painful. Lorain cut 182 positions and some popular programs in 2012 to eliminate about $7.3 million of a
$12 million deficit.

The levy — the first new levy approved by voters since 1992 — helped restore some programs and dozens of teachers have been recalled due to resignations and retirements.
More state taxpayer money also helped fix finances for the district which has a nearly $92 million annual budget. Board members have been critical of the Republican-led Legislature for cutting business taxes that went to schools and expanding charter schools, open enrollment and school voucher programs, which siphon money from public schools.

However, board members are pleased with increased state money from legislators in the new biennial budget. Weber said state revenue will increase by $3.9 million in 2014 and
$7 million in 2015.

Nonetheless, board members aren’t breaking out champagne. Weber forecasts a $2.1 million deficit for 2017-18, and it balloons to $9.5 million in 2018-19.

Weber said the projected red ink is primarily because of dropping enrollment in a district that has shrunk from about 10,000 to 7,000 students in the last decade. Weber said Lorain — which receives about $5,700 in state money per student — loses an average of 250 to 300 students per year to charters, open enrollment and vouchers, costing it about $21 million annually.

To retain and recruit students, board members are trying to better promote the district. A full-page advertisement in Sunday’s Chronicle-Telegram touted Lorain’s early college program and free breakfast and lunch programs. A $73 million new high school, scheduled to open in 2016, is also seen as a potential draw.

Despite long-term fiscal uncertainty, board member Bill Sturgill said there is reason for optimism. He praised voters for approving the levy as well as the levy committee and committee chairwoman Bambi Dillon.

“We were sitting on the edge,” said Sturgill, a levy committee member. “Now we have a surplus for three years out, which I think is great.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • JoyceEarly

    They are advertising free breakfast and lunch? You know what you’ll get don’t you? More poverty! How about advertising great academics, oh wait they don’t offer that!

  • Tom

    I don’t have kids yet but if I did, I wouldn’t send them to Lorain City Schools. They need to beef up security and improve academics. Hard to do that when you have to cut 182 positions…

  • Ray Venn

    You can make a car as pretty as you like but if it doesn’t get you from point “A” to point “B” the majority of the time, what is it worth?

    People don’t really care about free lunches or breakfast…they care about ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE…

    YOU HAVE HAD THE PROFICIENCY TEST SCORES FOR WEEKS NOW…DO TELL WHY YOU’RE NOT LETTING US KNOW HOW WE DID.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Don’t worry about that surplus…………………the union is coming to GET THERES………………watch and see…………………..huh mr gardwennie………..

  • Denise Caruloff

    Speaking of unions…how is it that the schools attorney is handling a union labor dispute? Where is the line drawn with this guy I ask?.
    LETTER: Without
    unions, middle class would eventually vanish

    Published:
    Friday, December 02, 2011

    To the Editor: A recent letter to this page suggested that unions
    in this country were no longer necessary. That somehow unions have outlived
    their usefulness.

    I totally disagree with that proposition and for some very good reasons.

    Although many laws exist in this country and in this state to protect working
    men and women, those laws were passed, in large part, through the efforts of
    organized labor. If organized labor goes away, so too will those laws. What the
    legislature gives, the legislature can take away. SB5 is a very good recent
    example of that fact.

    Moreover, today in Washington, D.C., there are over 35,000 registered
    lobbyists. These people are paid to gain influence with the Congress, the
    president and various agencies. Powerful, multinational corporations are well
    represented in Washington and in Columbus. Even foreign governments, like
    China, have representatives lobbying our government.

    The only way for working men and women to match up with all of those other
    interests is to organize, pool their money and voice their concerns.

    I cannot, for the life of me, understand why any working person and not just
    blue collar workers, but anyone who works for a living, would ever be opposed
    to having a voice in our government.

    Although there have been missteps over the years, even over reaching at times,
    by union leaders, those same missteps and that same over reaching has occurred
    times 10, by oil, banking and drug industries over the years.

    Now, more than ever, working men and women need a voice in government. Unions
    are the most effective way to create that voice. It is up to the membership to
    elect leaders who work not just for them, but for all working men and women,
    even those who cannot or do not belong to a union.

    An organized middle class is as essential today as it ever was, and unions are
    the best vehicle for maintaining a strong voice for our middle class.

    Anthony B. Giardini Continued…