July 26, 2014

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Lorain Schools facing $2.8 million deficit

LORAIN — Passage of a levy in 2012 allowed Lorain Schools to avoid bankruptcy and a state financial takeover, but red ink is on the horizon again.

The school district faces a projected $2.85 million deficit in 2015, Treasurer Dale Weber told Board of Education members at their Monday meeting.

Weber said the deficit is primarily due to students leaving the 6,600-member school district because of charter schools, open enrollment and school vouchers. Lorain has lost about 3,500 students in the last decade, he said.

Weber, making his semi-annual five-year financial forecast, said the deficit is based on a worst-case scenario in which Lorain continues to lose about 500 students annually and state funding remains level. He said Lorain has averaged an approximately 2.5 percent funding increase annually from the state, $1.5 million to $2 million more yearly.

Under the forecast, an $8.9 million deficit is projected for 2016. It balloons to $19.7 million in 2017 and nearly $34.4 million in 2018.

The deficits are based on Lorain Schools’ reliance on state taxpayer money, Weber said. The district receives about $5,700 in state money per student. Lorain, which has a $93 million general fund budget, expects to lose about $25.4 million in student funding this year due to competition.

“We have to increase enrollment in Lorain City Schools,” Weber said. “We have some work to do.”

Superintendent Tom Tucker said the way the Ohio Department of Education counts students penalizes Lorain Schools. The annual count takes place in October.

Tucker said many students who leave for charters or open enrollment at the start of the school year in August return after October, but are still counted as having left.

Tucker said the department plans to begin doing three counts annually beginning in the 2014-15 school year which will more accurately reflect enrollment. Tucker said the new Lorain High School, scheduled to open in August 2016, could boost enrollment. And new teachers who earn less than retiring teachers expected to leave in June will reduce costs.

However, Tucker said after the meeting that he hasn’t ruled out layoffs.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    And the don’t forget about the city taking money from the schools.

  • Sis Delish

    Best Definition of the effects of Teacher Tenure ever reported: “And new teachers who earn less than retiring teachers expected to leave in June will reduce costs.”

    The City of Lorain is in what is known in the Financial World as a “death spiral”. This descent began in the 80s and continues unabated. There is no amount of State or other tax revenues to counter this devaluation which leads to the question: Can parts of the City of Lorain be sold off to a newly formed community? Can the Northern-most part of Lorain County be reunited with its Southern citizens for agriculture production? Will Spitzer ever payback what is owed?? Por favor?

  • SniperFire

    Perhaps if Lorain would just elect a few more Democrats to lead them, things will change.

  • GreatRedeemer

    Perhaps if the district was not taken over by the State Of Ohio parents would not be pulling their children out. There are around 11-12 K school age children in Lorain, that means your getting only 30% with the majority going elsewhere.

    The district is also in part to blame for the population decrease and stagnant new construction. The only major new homes being built are in another school district.

    For any private business to survive, there has to be a demand, low cost position or high value and a perceived value by the customer. The Academic Distress Commission and the administration need fundamental change to win customers back. If not, you may as well close and let private industry take over? Not pointing fingers but it is what it is.

  • oldruss

    How do you go from passing a new levy in 2012 that generates $3,000,000 in additional revenue, annually, to being $2,850,000 in debt as early as 2015?
    To use declining enrollment as an excuse is pretty thin. Students have been leaving the LCSD for decades. I would say that a more likely cause is a failure of the district to reduce spending.

  • Sis Delish

    California ruling to end Teacher Tenure!

    Now if that isn’t a reason for Fireworks, I don’t know what is!!

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/10/