Growth presents challenges in updated 5-year forecast
By Brian Kern, Treasurer/CFO
Last month, I presented the District’s updated five-year financial forecast to our Board of Education.
Expenditure reductions, and increased efficiencies have contributed heavily to a positive 2017 five-year financial forecast. One of the things I am most proud of is the District’s ability to stretch the current levy cycle. When the last operating levy was approved by voters in 2012, the Board promised the funds would last three years. That promise has already been extended to five years.
We work very hard to hold the line on expenditures in areas such as staffing and insurance costs. One of the positive results of our insurance plan design changes has been lower than anticipated insurance expenses, as premiums have gone down around 18% over the last four years. We also continue to pursue energy efficiency. Recently, we saved about $60,000 by improving the energy star ratings at our schools. Whenever we can save funds, we can redirect those dollars into the classroom as the education of students is our primary objective.
All of these factors, along with community support, have helped the District secure the highest possible credit rating from global ratings agency Standard and Poors. The District’s credit rating is important to our taxpayers because it reduces the amount of interest the District must pay when it sells bonds to fund projects. We also recently earned the Auditor of State Award with Distinction for clean and accurate financial reporting and record keeping.
While the current financial state of the District is positive, challenges lie ahead. Enrollment projections can be subject to change depending on the national and local economy and other factors. If growth rates stay in the moderate to high range, the District can expect to enroll between 3,000 and 4,200 additional students during the next 10 years. By 2022, the District is projected to be more than 1,300 elementary students over current capacity. That figure translates into two additional large elementary schools.
The long-term solution to enrollment growth was formulated during the 2015-16 school year with the creation of a Master Plan committee to address our future facilities needs. The committee determined that over the next 10 years, the District will need two more elementary schools, a fifth middle school, additions to two of our high schools, and non-traditional high school space, which we have acquired in the form of Dublin City Schools Emerald Campus.
These additional schools and the additional staff that will be needed to operate them are not built into the current forecast because they will require community approval.
The Master Plan committee is currently working on an updated timeline regarding when new schools will need to open to avoid the issues caused by massive overcrowding. Consequences of overcrowding could include purchasing more portable classrooms, alterations to how a school day runs, and adverse impact on class sizes.
We will keep you apprised of the District’s financial situation as we navigate the challenges associated with growth. Thank you for your support of our District