School funding will decrease – but Milford is ahead of the pack

Although Governor Kasich’s recently released biennial budget is being billed as an “increase” to education, it is in fact a reallocation in dollars that is projected to result in cuts overall.  While we will not have the line items and basis for the budget for at least several weeks, estimates are that Milford will lose 11.5% this coming year and 4.25% the following year, resulting in almost $3 million lost overall.

Thankfully, due to Treasurer Randy Seymour and Superintendent Bob Farrell’s conservative management, the loss of federal stimulus dollars was anticipated and already removed from the budget.  The net impact to our budget, as projected right now, will likely be somewhere around -$400,000.

This is also before other potential legislation, such as Senate Bill 5 and changes to the pension program, are factored in.  Since the timing of these changes, or even if they will happen and what they will be, is so uncertain, we will base our budgeting on the most recent information, acting as conservatively as possible.

For more information on Milford’s role in the fight against unfunded mandates, click here.

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5 Responses to “School funding will decrease – but Milford is ahead of the pack”

  1. Tom Cannon Says:

    Andrea,

    I’m not sure what “ahead of the pack” means exactly. But if you mean MVESD’s financial status is better off than others due to “conservative management”, I don’t agree. This is why. In response to a question by board member Bill Knepp during the December 2008 board meeting, the Treasurer Randy Seymour informed the board that a 25% cut in state funding was in the works. It was a strong warning. It was detailed. It was credible. And it was made in the face of one of the worst recessions we’ve ever had and in the midst of the state’s financial crisis. Oddly, no other board member or the superintendant had any questions or comments to make after hearing this earthshaking news. The meeting simply went on to other subjects. Then, in February of 2009, Mr. Seymour repeated his doubts about the future of state funding. That discussion was prompted by Mr. Farrell’s request to give the teachers two raises 6 months apart. Following Mr. Seymour’s comments, three board members, Debbie Marques, George Lucas, and David Yockey, along with superintendant Robert Farrell, all openly announced their decisions to ignore the treasurer’s comments regarding the possible revenue cuts. Instead, they embraced the aggressive spending plans Mr. Farrell had proposed that included multiple rounds of pay raises for all school employees plus a variety of new expenditures. Eventually the forecasted expenditures grew so much so that by late 2010 they resulted in a forecasted $35 million debt for 2015. Obviously, such a forecast would look extremely ridiculous. So it was revised. Presently, that “debt” has been reduced to $14.4 million. That’s still a ridiculous amount. It’s almost insurmountable. It’s depressing.
    This is not conservative management. And ignoring the expertise of a well respected treasurer is absolutely irresponsible.

  2. Tom Cannon Says:

    Please correct the above to read “board member Gary Knepp” not “board member Bill Knepp”.

  3. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Tom,
    I’m not completely sure what you’re referring to. Under the Evidence Based Model, Milford’s state funding was slated to decrease 2% a year until we’d reached a certain amount – which, if the model stayed in place that long, could have been up to 20 years. The board, before I joined and also last year (my first year), directed the administration to reduce total expenditures by at least 2%, which was a higher reduction than what we were losing from the state. Last year, we reduced 3%, and we’re on track for that again this year.

    I don’t know of two raises being given to the teachers 6 months apart. The board voted to give them raises this year; Gary Knepp and I agreed to them because Dr. Farrell had committed to reducing the budget by that amount (in addition to the 2% cut) to offset the cost. In addition, that was before the issue with Duke, and before the revised forecast was released.

    Granted, we should have seen the forecast before we voted – that’s a lesson we’ve learned, and I’ve insisted on seeing as up-to-date a forecast as possible before any significant vote in the future.

    I’m also not sure what you’re referring to when you mention a variety of new expenditures. The only real “new expenditures” I know about are for curriculum and technology, both of which we desperately need – but which may be put on hold again, depending on what happens with the latest budget.

    I believe we will have a better handle on our budget than ever before starting this year, as all department heads have been asked to compare back to their projections. This has not been done before. This is the “pre-appropriation” I’ve talked about in other articles.

    I agree, the $14 million deficit projection is depressing. However, it does not come from aggressive spending – it’s from income reductions (state funding, Duke, personal property, etc) combined with unfunded mandates. Hopefully we’ll get some relief from the mandates, and we’ll see what happens with state funding.

    Thanks,
    Andrea

  4. Tom Cannon Says:

    Andrea
    View the cable recordings of board meetings 12/18/2008 and also 02/19/2009. They can be found at:
    http://icrctv.net/milford-board-of-ed
    During the 12/18/2008 Randy Seymour, who is a very reliable source, reported what he had heard while at a meeting in Columbus regarding cuts in funding for Milford. The number he said was a 25% cut. Was that cast in stone? No, but in view of the poor financial condition of the state, the raging recession, and reliability of the source, it’s a very credible scenario. In fact, look at what’s actually happening. Aside from Duke, the reduction is about $4.5 million or 25%. That’s just like Mr. Seymour had said over two years ago.
    During the 02/19/2009 meeting Mr. Farrell proposed raises for the teachers a 2.5% pay rate increase effective January 2009 and another pay rate increase of 2% effective in July of 2009 for the fiscal year 2010. Only Gary Knepp voted against these pay increases as a cautionary step. And of course the rest of the school employees got increases each year as well. I won’t argue the why of them, but what about the affordability, especially in view of the probable revenue losses.
    By new expenditures I meant increases of expenditures, not necessarily new ones.
    I think most people cut back on their spending and made some sacrifices starting in 2008 to make sure they could weather the recession that continues to this day. I wish the Milford district had done the same.

  5. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Tom,
    I looked back at the minutes and found what you’re talking about. I hadn’t connected it – the Feb 2009 meeting was when the raises after the levy were granted. That was very controversial as the five-year forecast had the raises built into the budget if the levy passed, but the public was not specifically informed the raises would be given. That approach has now been changed – we are no longer building in raises to the forecast, as they then become “implicitly approved.”

    I also found the minutes from the December 2008 meeting you were referencing. I don’t believe I was at that meeting, so I don’t know what Mr. Seymour was talking about. I asked Mr. Knepp about it, and he doesn’t recall, either. What we’ve been seeing from the state is a 2% decrease each year; perhaps Mr. Seymour was referencing some of the other changes to come, but some are new this year.

    Since I wasn’t on the board at the time, I can’t comment on how the board approached finances. I would have voted against those raises because I did not feel they were communicated to the community properly. However, I do feel the district is spending conservatively now. Everyone is working to find efficiencies and reduce expenditures. As mentioned, unfunded mandates continue to increase costs; we have no control over them, and that is very frustrating. It sounds like an excuse, but it’s simply a fact: if it’s law, we must do it.

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