Here are the supplemental materials provided in preparation for the regular meeting of the School Board, to be held Monday August 26, 2013 at 7pm, in the ILC Annex (formerly known as the Central Office Annex).
You might be interested in the opening day enrollment numbers. We start this year with 15,882 students (including JVS students), up slightly from the 15,783 we had last year. In 2011, the opening day number was 15,758. This is a far cry from the explosive growth we had a decade ago, but residential development is starting to pick up again. The earthmoving equipment is onsite and active for the new Heritage Preserve development on Alton-Darby Rd, planned for 687 single-family and multi-family dwellings, with the potential for several hundred new kids in the schools.
On the financial side, we have the Monthly Financial Report for July to approve, but the more important item is the Permanent Appropriations Resolution, a piece of legislation required by state law. It has two purposes: 1) it is the way the Board of Education authorizes the Administration to spend money; and, 2) it authorizes other government authorities, such as the Franklin County Treasurer, to disburse to us the monies that have been collected on our behalf, such as property taxes.
If you take the time to do so - and I have - you can reconcile the numbers in the Appropriations Resolution with the detail disclosed in the FY14 Budget provided by Treasurer. I have always believed that this process of inspecting and approving the Permanent Appropriations Resolution and the supporting Budget is one of the most important duties of the School Board.
I've had a detailed dialog with the Treasurer about several items of interest I found in the Budget, and am satisfied with his answers. Because 86% of our General Fund spending is for Compensation and Benefits, a key number to pay attention to is the change in the Full-Time-Equivalent headcount.
For FY14 (which we are already in), the FTE headcount is projected to be 1,646, compared to 1,633 in FY13 and 1,644 in FY12. The only change of notice is that the FY14 budget has 18 fewer Regular Education teachers, and 11 more Special Education teachers. While I'm interested in this reallocation of resources, the personnel budget as a whole looks appropriate given the relatively flat enrollment numbers.
While the General Fund budget seems reasonable, I'm quite concerned about the Capital Improvement Plan, shown on page 102 of the Budget document.
In 2006, the community voted to enact a 2 mill Permanent Improvements Levy, which generates $4.6 million per year for Capital Improvement - and that money is being spent. However, our Operations Department believes we need to be spending $4.5 million more for at least the next four years, starting next year. This is equivalent to another 2 mills of property taxes ($70/yr for each $100,000 of value).
While the FY14 Capital Improvement plan is covered by the current revenue stream, the FY15-FY18 Capital Improvements plan submitted is a substantial change from the FY13 Budget, and needs to be discussed in depth in the near future.
Lastly, you are probably aware of that the new State Report Card is out. We've been justifiably proud as a community to have earned the highest rating possible - "Excellent with Distinction" - for several years running. Last year, we were #1 in the State of Ohio in terms of the Value Added category.
The new Report Card uses an A to F rating system. It would have been nice to have received all As, but no school district in Ohio received all As. I'm not ready to render an opinion about the new Report Card system yet, but from an engineering perspective, it sounds like we might have a measurement instrument that is better calibrated to the range of data.
The old report card was like the gas gauge in most of our cars - it stays on FULL for a good while after you fill up, even though you know gas has been consumed. With the old Report Card, so many districts were awarded Excellent or Excellent with Distinction ratings that it obscured where we stacked up within that large group.
So if the new Report Card accurately measures what it says it does - and smarter people than me are no doubt going to figure that out - then we should be able to see more clearly where we're doing well, and where we need to do some work.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to read Dr. Marschhausen's comments on the new Report Card.