Springfield treasurer updates disturbing five-year forecast

Carolynn Mostyn
Suburbanite correspondent

SPRINGFIELD TWP. During the virtual Zoom meeting of the Springfield Local Schools Board of Education, Treasurer Chris Adams gave an update on the district's five-year forecast.

Springfield Spartans

The forecast was approved by the board, however, it is holding a work session to discuss further cuts and finalizing a financial plan for the future after a 7.7-mill levy was voted down by voters during the Nov. 3 election.

Adams said the forecast was disturbing as went over what is the forecast looks like taking in the current conditions. He said that even after accounting for the closure of Young Elementary, the district will be $3 million in the hole for the current school year. Next year, that shortfall will reach $4.5 million.

Adams said open enrollment dropped by about 50 students, which is a loss of $300,000 a year. He attributed some of that to the fact that public schools, for the most part, are not allowing for students to go back and forth from online learning and in school learning. The district has asked for students to commit one way or the other for a period of time. Adams said charter schools advertised that they were allowing for students to go back and forth and he believes that has attributed to the drop in open enrollment.

Other issues facing the district is that medical costs have gone up drastically, which causes a hard hit on the budget. The district also is in fiscal watch and is looking at the options of borrowing money or going into fiscal emergency with the state mandating the cuts.

Board Member Neal Hess pointed out after reviewing the numbers, that even with Young closing the district is looking at a $9.1 million deficit in the five-year forecast.

Adams said there is some talk in Columbus of changing school funding, but even if it comes to fruition, that is a six-year plan.

Twenty-five members of the staff of Young will lose their positions with the district with the closure of the school. After that cut, the district will begin to cut student programs.

Adams said that people have said to him that the district didn't lose a lot when it was previously in fiscal emergency. Adams, however, noted there were places to cut then. Now, the only thing that can be cut is staffing and programs. 

"I hope the taxpayers recognize this. When you lose $3 million in revenue and your expenditures go up even a small percentage on a $30 million budget, that is a lot of money,” said Adams.

Other business:

• Approved business during the meeting included a long list of personnel items which included resignations and retirement resignations, family medical leave, reassignments, employments, volunteer coach and supplemental contracts.

The board approved the donation of 30 Christmas Trees from Walmart that are being divided between Spring Hill and Young Elementary with an estimated value of $750. They will go to families in need.

• A list of policy revisions, deletions and additions were approved.

• Business Manager Dustin Boswell thanked the tech staff for stepping up and working long hours to get computers in the hands of the students that are temporary doing remote learning. This is due to the temporary closure of the junior/senior high school caused by office staff members needing to be quarantined. The school is to reopen Nov. 30.

• Boswell thanked the maintenance and custodial staff for their diligence on keeping the schools clean and disinfected. He thanked the cafeteria staff for their daily efforts in feeding the children and that they went above and beyond that day helping to serve those that had lost power and also doing deliveries and donating food all on their own time.

• Adams said the administrative offices are running very smoothly. The staff has stepped up to the plate to get things done.

• Superintendent Chuck Sincere said things change minute to minute with COVID. He said it is spreading uncontrollably and hospitals are reaching maximum capacity. Most people are not contracting COVID at school, work, the store but are getting sick after being with friends.

“I believe the K -12 are doing very well," he said. "Schools will not be able to be open if we cannot keep our teachers in the classroom. It is becoming difficult to staff the buildings. What we do as a community is what impacts what we do.” He said he applauds the efforts of the staff as it is challenging. We all need to do our part and not let our guard down.”

• Resident, parent, and coach Miranda Terry she said the staff has been working together and have been amazing. She said she thinks people are sick of seeing Springfield Schools on the ballot practically every year and said the levy should have been put on the ballot last year because the district was going to be in a negative situation. She said they should be offering students much more. “We need changes.”

Board President Dave Hofer thanked her for her comments and said they will digest what she said, and they will work through some of the issues at the workshop and move forward.

• Dec. 15 is the next regular board meeting at 6 p.m. Meetings can be seen on the district’s You Tube channel or on Spectrum channel 1023. Public comments may be addressed to the board through Zoom during the meeting. Participants will be limited to five minutes. Please register at  www.springfieldspartans.org/boe-register at least 30 minutes prior to the meeting.