October 26, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Schools’ five-year financial forecast positive

ELYRIA — Five years without having to implement an aggressive reduction plan to cut millions from the budget is not something Elyria Schools Treasurer Fred Stephens thought he would ever be able to project for the district.

Yet, with weeks left until the district’s financial head’s retirement, that is what his parting gift will be. On Wednesday night, the Elyria school board heard the district’s five-year financial forecast and, for the first time in almost a decade, it had good news.

At the current level of expenditures, revenue, levies and state funding, the cash balance for the district should stay between $5 million and $9 million until 2018.

Ernie Straw, a consultant with Public Finance Resources Inc., delivered the news. Stephens smiled. He can recall the years of slashing the budget so deep hundreds of positions were lost and schools were closed.

“If we have to go into reduction mode again, I don’t know where we would get that $3 (million) or $4 million to make those cuts. That’s why you have to be very mindful of this budget in the coming years,” Straw said to board members.

Straw said Elyria is not flush with cash.

This year, the ending balance will be $8.4 million and next year it jumps to $9.5 million. But 2016 will start a slow trend of the district spending slightly more money each month than it brings in as revenue.

“To have $9.5 million in the bank is OK,” he said. “It’s a little more than 10 percent of your overall budget. But keep in mind, an average month’s expenses is about $6 million.”

Basically, Elyria has to remain conservative, Straw said.

By 2018, the cash balance will be $5.7 million with the district spending $2.5 million over projected revenue.

Board President Don Boddy said to do anything else would be wrong to the voters. They have stomached deep cuts, kept their confidence and passed levies along the way.

“They have been very generous to us, giving us renewal after renewal. We thank them over and over again by doing our job,” he said.

Straw said Elyria can’t and shouldn’t count on state funding to bail them out in the future. While a slight bump in state funding was given to Elyria in the last biennial budget, Elyria is in a middle zone where funding can go up or down.

“Your success factor is in not being afraid to do what you have to (to) independently manage your situation,” he said.

In other news

The board unanimously passed a resolution supporting the idea of more local control for schools. The symbolic legislation speaks to the many federal changes districts are being asked to implement — many of them at the same time and with so little funding provided to support implementation.

“We need control over what we are doing,” said Superintendent Paul Rigda. “It’s not so much that we disagree with our federal government is doing or saying, but it’s coming at us too fast with us to have no control. We have to have a voice in what we are doing.”

Today, Lorain County’s superintendents are holding an educational summit at Lorain County Community College hosted by the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce to discuss local control and other issues stemming from a survey of voters.

The poll, conducted by Burges & Burges Strategists of Cleveland, surveyed 620 registered voters in Lorain County on educational matters such as academic achievement, high-stakes testing, public perception of local school districts and teachers and support for public preschool programs.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • Pablo Jones

    Elyria Public School’s wages and compensation budget increases over $400,000 each year. In 5 years that means they will be spending over $2 million dollars more in wages and compensation.

    “By 2018, the cash balance will be $5.7 million with the district spending $2.5 million over projected revenue.”

    Imagine that. And we wonder where all the money goes. Do you think the quality of education will be worth $2 million dollars more in 5 years? Keep in mind that increase in wages will be for teaching fewer students as well.

    • Mark B

      “Elyria Public School’s wages and compensation budget increases over $400,000 each year” How can this be , the teachers scream they have not had a pay increase in years !!!

      • Pablo Jones

        You can review their contract on the SERB website. They get 30-40 step increases, longevity pay, educational pay increases, extracurricular pay, and then with all those increases in pay it also increases the amount the district has to pay into their retirement account. Then you have the cost of healthcare that is increasing. Then with most of their contract renewals they get a large pay increase that more than makes up for any years in between contracts where they may have given up their cost of living adjustment.

        • The Thinker

          Actually the teachers voted to freeze their step increases for three years when the teachers and district signed the current contract. There is NO longevity pay. Generally teachers who get supplemental contracts (what I assume your calling extracurricular pay) don’t make a ton of extra money from them for the time they require. You cant blame the cost of healthcare rising on teachers. I fairly sure they have made concessions in both of their last two contracts to pay more of the health insurance premium. And no they do not “get a large pay increase” when they renew their contract. MOST of you have attempted to pass off as fact is partially or completely incorrect. I have no problem with people expressing opinions on any subject but don’t make assertions designed to sway public opinion based on myths. All of this information is public record.

          • Otter

            Still, it’s not bad for a part-time job, Who else gets so much vacation time?

          • Pablo Jones

            http://www.serb.ohio.gov/sections/research/WEB_CONTRACTS/09-MED-03-0342.pdf

            http://www.serb.ohio.gov/sections/research/ADDENDUMS/09-MED-03-0342.pdf

            The links above are the contract and the addendum. A temporary freeze in the steps but an up front wage increase. Education step increases are still in effect. Longevity is still in effect but frozen at the current rate between 2-12%.

            As for the step increases being frozen come the next contract those that are frozen at say 9 years will be bumped up to the 12 year pay scale, plus whatever cola percentage they can get.

            The school district pays 87.5% of healthcare costs, costs that are still increasing every year.

            A 2% increase in base pay for each year for the 3 year contract. 6% over 3 years? Which is further increased by their time and education steps. Let’s just look at the 2% increase at 400 teachers earning say $50,000 (some are more some are less), that 2% increase means their wage costs increase $400,000. Add in the 12 or 14% that the schools pay into retirement and just in the last year costs have increased $450,000 and that is without the educational step increases.

            As for the supplemental contracts you are correct some are very small .5% of their pay for an elementary juggling adviser. But most in the high school are 8% or higher going up to 25% of their pay. Advise a few small clubs a few times a month and you can give you a good pay increase for only a few hours of work.

          • Pablo Jones

            Actually you can blame the healthcare costs on the teachers. The district is self insured. That means the sicker the teachers or families are the higher the healthcare cost.

          • Pablo Jones

            Now you got me to think. Let’s say teachers work 200 years a year (180 school days plus 20 extra) and let’s say they work 8 hours a day. That is 1600 hours per year. Divide that by 100 and you get the number of hours of pay equivalent to 1% of their earnings. 16 hours equals 1% of their pay.

            If they get 8% for their supplemental contract for advising a student group that equates to 128 hours a school year. or 14 hours a month. That is 3 hours a week of advising time for these groups. Some groups may put that much time in others only meet for an hour every couple weeks. I think that increases their pay much more than the time they put in.

    • The Thinker

      Fewer students? Really? Again, please check your facts. Elyria has the largest kindergarten class they have had in years. Furthermore, the incoming freshman class at EHS is LARGER than last years.

      • Pablo Jones

        2007-08 7542
        2008-09 7520
        2009-10 7130
        2010-11 6976
        2011-12 6616

        Do you see a pattern?

        The high school freshman class is based on the credits they have, which includes kids that are failing in the higher grades. At one point the freshman class was over 1,000 but in 4 years they graduated around 400. If this years freshman class is larger, I would guess that the previous years freshman didn’t learn as much as they should have.

      • Stan K

        Largest kindergarten class of low income families is more like it.Families that demand the best education for their kids,yet contribute nothing to the tax pool.Most of those kids won’t even graduate.

        • The Thinker

          Yeah it’s clearly the kids fault since they ask to be born. No reason to educate them. Pretty cold Stan. Most families in the 1920′s were what we would consider “low income” families. They received a free and appropriate PUBLIC education and most of them went on to create the middle class of the next two or three generations.

  • golfingirl

    ” While a slight bump in state funding was given to Elyria in the last biennial budget….”

    No way! Not with a Republican Governor. This must be a mistake! Tell me it isn’t true!

    Republicans are “mean” and have no compassion.

    You mean everything I have read about Kasich may not be true?

    • The Thinker

      No it means it was cut (for better or worse) so drastically when he took office that they are getting a minor increase from what they received last year.

  • SniperFire

    It doesn’t matter how much money is spent on a kid’s education. It is all about the parents. The key indicator of school failure and poverty is out-of-wedlock birth.

    • The Thinker

      Students whose parents have an active role in their education definitely have an advantage over those children who, for whatever reason, don’t have parents doing much to support their academic growth. That point is really common scents. I disagree with your “out-of-wedlock” assumption. Lots of people co-habitat simply to keep the state out of their relationship and produce well rounded, bright children together regardless of their marital status. That being said, being a single parent is challenging, on a number of fronts in terms of working, raising, educating and supporting yourself and your kids.

      • SniperFire

        ‘ I disagree with your “out-of-wedlock” assumption. ‘

        You argue with math, and you will lose. For example, Only 12 percent of black families below the poverty line have both parents present Not much of a thinker, are you? LOL

        Now, run along again. You have just had your head handed to you once more.

  • Sandy Wendell Riley

    Each time an article comes out in the newspaper about the financial status of the schools there are so many comments made that leave me very frustrated. I have to remind myself that the names of the people I see making the negative comments about the schools are the same names I see negatively commenting on just about everything. Most of you have no idea what it is like in a classroom today. Many teachers and support staff are hit, kicked and bit on a regular basis. So why do they put up with this? Because they have a love for children and want to see that child be the best they can be and become a respectful member of society. For many, the only time they have to learn this is at school. The bad behaviors that I mentioned do not just come from the poverty stricken and single parent homes. A lot of them are children of professionals with a good income. While there are some troubled students, there are also a very large number of students who are very bright, compassionate, non judgemental, tolerant of others and very eager to learn. Qualities that a lot of adults in society need to learn. There was a 3 year step freeze, which will most likely not be returned. The insurance is good, but for many it costs them nearly half of their income. As far as “so much paid vacation time given”, do people not realize that their paid vacation is paid for by them? Money is taken out of each pay for the summer. I can assure you that when summer comes there is not a teacher that does not have his/her students on their mind. We have a wonderful teaching and support staff in the Elyria city schools who really don’t get the recognition they deserve.

    • SniperFire

      You could be replaced for half the cost with about the same results. Believe it.

      And for about a third of the cost if brought in line with what most of your constituency is making.

      • The Thinker

        You must be one of the few republicans in favor of legalizing marijuana.

        • SniperFire

          But you deflect, weak thinker.

    • golfingirl

      “The insurance is good, but for many it costs them nearly half of their income.”

      Is this accurate? No being argumentative, but just curious if this is true?

      Also, since the teachers’ union is one of the biggest supporters of Democratic candidates in national elections, including the current President, why not use his signature health care program to cut healthcare costs?

      If they are truly paying half their income toward insurance, why not simply enroll in Obamacare and save thousands in annual premiums?

      This is how it was sold to the public. If you supported its implementation, you should be using it, and saving money along the way.

      So why are they spending “half” their income on insurance?

      • Pablo Jones

        Those that would be paying half their income are most likely part time people that have to pay a larger percentage of the healthcare costs. If their healthcare costs $900 total, their 12.5% would be $112 per month. The base salary is around 32,000 for teachers. Less than $1500 a year for health insurance is hardly half of what they make.

    • Guest

      ,,,,

    • Pablo Jones

      Sandy, I would hazard to bet that the children of the people you think are the most negative on here, are the most well behaved and well rounded kids in the classroom. The parents of the kids that do cause the problems are most likely the parents that agree people shouldn’t judge other people and likewise they don’t want you to judge how they are (poorly) raising their kids.

      Let’s use the glass is half full or half empty saying here. You view our comments has half empty, you are looking at it negatively. If you view the comments positively you would see we are not being negative. We are positive because we see the potential for vast improvements that are possible.

      We do not put down teachers for the work they do. Many people couldn’t put up with all those kids especially the misbehaving ones all day. But we all choose the profession we go into and we don’t want to hear people complaining about what they are paid, especially when it is better than the majority of the people that pay them.

    • Pablo Jones

      “There was a 3 year step freeze,”

      Which was replaced with a nearly 2% annual increase in the base wage.

      “As far as “so much paid vacation time given”, do people not realize that their paid vacation is paid for by them? Money is taken out of each pay for the summer.”

      Yes the majority of school districts spread the pay out throughout the year, a few do not. But let’s take a look at this.

      1. Teachers know how much they will make in the year. They are essentially on a salary, which gets paid out for the full year even though you only work around 9 months. During that off time they can perform other work, even for the same school district, and get paid for it.

      - How people view it is you are paid for not working during the summer.

      2. Or you can view it as the teachers get paid an amount roughly 25% more per day worked than a person earning the same annual amount but works the full year. (A teacher earning 50,000 a year and working 200 days makes about $250 a day. A person earning $50,000 but working 250 days makes about $200 a day.)

      - How people view it is you are paid 25% more than you say you are.

      3. School districts spread out the wages throughout the year for several reasons. First they know some people aren’t good with money and may blow it during the year and have no money during the summer. Second, by spreading it out over the year it saves people in taxes (unless you state how much you want withheld). Taxes are withheld as if what you earned in that pay check is how you will be paid on every pay day. So if you were only paid during the school year a higher rate of taxes will be withheld. Spreading it out may keep some people in a lower tax bracket for withholdings. (You will still get the money back at tax time if they withhold at a higher rate, but you miss out on having it.)

  • Sis Delish

    “Basically, Elyria has to remain conservative, Straw said.”

    LOL, this guy Straw really understands his subject. LOL, Like Elyria was ever conservative. Really, he said that??

  • 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/