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Published: Tuesday, 6/26/2007

Proposed TPS budget would trim 47 positions

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Board of Education tonight is expected to approve a balanced budget for next school year that will include job cuts, but is financially better than previously expected.

The budget calls for cutting 47 jobs, including 30 elementary teachers, next school year.

Treasurer Dan Romano said the staff cuts are being proposed because of declining enrollment. "I think we approached this budget differently than we have in the past, he said. "We tried to build a budget rather than make cuts from a budget."

District officials last year said they would need to cut $12.7 million from the 2007-08 budget over the previous fiscal year.

Mr. Romano in February said adjustments brought the deficit to about $11. 7 million.

Just last month, officials said there would be a $2 million carryover from 2006-07, retained, in part, by leaving vacant positions unfilled and a greater-than-anticipated student enrollment.

Documents released yesterday show the school system will carry over $8.7 million from last school. Mr. Romano said the system spent considerably less than expected during 2006-07 on salaries and benefits and that left it with the sizable carryover.

The board closed five schools last year to help balance a $12 million deficit projected for the 2006-07 school year, but still ended the year with the $8.7 million carryover. It spent $2 million less on salaries and $600,000 less on benefits. The district also had more students than they expected and therefore lost less state funding to charter schools, Mr. Romano said.

Robert Torres, board vice president, said he is not satisfied with the budget in its current form.

"We need to comply with the filing deadline, but what I would like to do is have public hearings on the budget that would give us more time," Mr. Torres said.

"I think the fact that we have additional funds carrying over - we went from $2 million to [$8.7] million in a carryover - and I think we have to look at the budget and make some considerations of the cuts that have been proposed," he said.

Mr. Romano said the board could make adjustments to the budget after July 1.

Steven Steel, board president, said the board would discuss those issues tonight.

The proposed budget for 2007-08 totals $344,066,693 - an increase of $7.3 million from spending for 2006-07.

The largest chunk of money, about 69 percent, will go to salaries and fringe benefits.

The district predicts it will spend more than $167.2 million on salaries, which is nearly $1.3 million less than last school year because of the staff reductions.

"We believe there will be minimal number of people laid off," Mr. Romano said. "The attrition is greater than the number of reductions in positions."

The budget's other major expenditures include:

•More than $71.1 million for fringe benefits, $558,503 more than last year.

•$9.31 million for utilities, which is $415,022 more than last year.

•$3 million for contract transportation, $90,105 more than last year.

•More than $14.7 million for purchased services, which is $1 million more than last year. That line item includes $500,000 for crossing guards - an expenses the city of Toledo paid previously.

•$10.46 million for supplies, textbooks, and equipment, which is $79,000 more than last year.

The school system is predicting it will have 27,739 students in the fall, down from 29,509 in October, 2006.

The budget assumes 7,200 children will attend charter schools, costing the district $54 million in lost funding, and 665 children will use state vouchers to attend private schools, costing more than $3.2 million

The proposed budget cuts $512,009 - nearly 24 percent - from the food services fund.

The most recent five-year financial forecast shows a balanced budget for next school year, but an $18.43 million deficit for the 2008-09 school year, a $44.7 million deficit in 2009-10, and a $96 million deficit in 2010-11.

The overall revenue the school system will receive is expected to increase slightly - $2.92 million - to more than $338.43 million.

The budget predicts nearly $95.7 million will come from local tax revenue, which is $4.38 million less than last year.

"We are becoming more dependent on the state as local share is decreasing," Mr. Romano said.

There is expected to be an increase in state funding to $225.23 million - up $7.3 million from 2006-07, he said.

Federal revenue will increase from $188,000 last year to $543,000.

Money from tuition, fees, and other sources will decrease by $351,221 to nearly $14.97 million.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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