Increasing employee salaries and flat state funding are expected to contribute to deficit spending at West Liberty-Salem Local Schools in the next few years.
The school district board approved the five-year forecast at its May 17 meeting. The forecast is required to be developed in May and October every year by Ohio law.
Revenue is predicted to end the current school year at $13,583,710 and next school year at $13,455,126. Revenue is estimated to grow slightly to $13,806,875 in the 2019-20 school year.
Revenues are estimated to stay flat or decline, according to the five-year forecast assumptions document prepared by Treasurer Steve Godwin. That is despite building in a slight improvement in property tax revenue over the life of the forecast. The forecast predicts flat funding from the state of Ohio.
Expenses are estimated to end the current school year at $13,064,361 and next school year at $13,660,801. Expenses are estimated to grow to $15,323,230 in the 2019-20 school year.
Expenses are estimated to increase over the life of the forecast due to increasing staff salaries, according to the forecast assumptions document. Employee salaries are predicted to increase 2 percent on the base salary, with 1.5 percent step adjustments for most years. The only exception is school year 2016-17 and 2019-20, where the base increase is set at 1.5 percent.
Health insurance cost are estimated to increase 7.5 percent each year beginning in the 2016-17 school year. School supplies and materials are estimated to increase 9.5 percent for the current school year, and 3 percent for the remaining years. Those increases are partially for the purchase of new textbooks, the forecast assumptions document stated.
The district is estimated to end the current school year with a $519,349 surplus, and end next school year with a $205,675 shortfall. The deficit is estimated to grow to $1,516,354 in the 2019-20 school year, but school levy revenue and cash reserves are predicted to cover the shortfall, assuming levies are renewed. If so, the district is estimated to end the 2019-20 school year with a $785,357 surplus in 2019-20.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.