COVENTRY TWP.  Coventry Schools officials are calling it “an amazing turnaround," saying the district has made great strides to improve its finances.

Coventry Treasurer Matthew Muccio said the district started fiscal year 2017 with about $1.8 million in the General Fund and finished the year with about $2 million. The district was loaned $4.8 million from the state when the district went into fiscal emergency and was given two years to pay the money back. Coventry paid back $2.4 million in fiscal year 2017 and will repay the remaining $2.4 million in fiscal year 2018.

Muccio said it is impressive that the district was able to pay the money back and still make money. He said the money the district made was based on property taxes, state aid and open enrollment. Coventry Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said the district was mindful of spending and the district made some reductions in force at the start of fiscal year 2017, which also contributed to the bottom line

Every year is different, financially, Muccio cautioned.

“A lot of factors go into if we could make that every year,” Muccio said. “You could have a more favorable year or have a less favorable year.”

Muccio said fiscal year 2017 was a favorable year with fewer substitutes needed and no boilers going out.

“We still owe money back to the state and it is important we pass the renewal,” Chaboudy added.

Muccio said Coventry’s five-year forecast, which he likened as a business model for schools, is a lot stronger than a lot of other schools.

“For the foreseeable future we can keep a new money issue off the ballot,” Chaboudy added.

Muccio said he wants to do everything possible to stay clear of needing any new money, saying he would love to never have to ask for it again.

Muccio and Chaboudy said fiscal years 2016 and 2017 are proof the district can make money with open enrollment.

Last summer, the Ohio Auditor's Office released a report that said Coventry loses more than $1 million a year from open enrollment. District officials have steadfastly questioned that report and conducted an internal study on the effects of open enrollment, which showed that the district's policy has been a net positive financially. Muccio and Chaboudy each questioned how the district could be losing money from open enrollment when it is finishing with a positive balance.

If the district can pass a renewal issue this November, it can refinance and increase its bond rating. Chaboudy said passage of the renewal will also put an end to 20-plus years of fiscal oversight.

“Collectively, as a team we are watching every dollar that goes through the school district,” Muccio said.