The COVID-19 crisis has changed almost every aspect of our everyday lives. Generally speaking, there is so much uncertainty that makes it very difficult to predict what the future will look like. Our school district has a strong track record of conservative and responsible financial planning. It is our hope that this ongoing commitment will enable us to get through this challenging time by protecting the quality of our schools as much as possible.
The closure of much of the state will result in significant decreases in state tax revenue. Last Wednesday Governor DeWine announced the implementation of $775 million in cuts and reductions, including $300 million in state funding reductions to K-12 schools. That’s understandable when you consider the economic impact of the pandemic right now. But, the impact of these cuts will be significant.
The average deduction for school districts in Ohio was 3.7% in line with what we thought would occur, but the methodology resulted in our reduction being 10.00% or $266,899. This equates to $259 per student. These deductions will occur for the remainder of this fiscal year. In light of this new information, we are estimating an additional reduction of 10% for FY21. As of today, It’s hard to predict whether FY22 will return to normal level or continue at the reduced level. We also recognize that our local property and income tax revenue will be reduced due to the economic impact across our community. We’ll need to take a conservative approach.
In the short term, we have experienced small cost savings due to our closure including reduced costs for fuel, utilities, and substitute positions. We are also looking at our hiring of current vacant positions to find savings opportunities. For FY21, we have asked all buildings and departments to reduce their budgets up to 20%. Some departments have already exceeded that amount. We will also experience some savings through hiring of new staff for the 2020-2021 school year.
It is important for the district to think proactively and plan ahead to maintain the resources needed to reach our goal of ensuring student success. As we are seeing in every aspect of our lives today, the situation will continue to change as more information becomes available. Informing our staff, families, and community with accuracy and transparency will remain a priority.
If you have questions, I will always be happy to answer to the best of my ability.
- Adham Schirg, Fairbanks Local Schools, Superintendent