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Published: Friday, 7/18/2008

Toledo schools finishing '08-'09 budget

Toledo Public Schools is finalizing a $363 million operating budget for the current fiscal year that includes changes in union contracts.

The budget for the 2008-2009 school year anticipates the district generating about $2 million less and spending about $19 million more than last year.

Much of that extra money will be spent as a result of salary and benefit changes in the contract with the Toledo Federation of Teachers and pending contracts with the district's other unions - the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

The contract with the teachers' union settled the long-standing issue of a deferred salary increase of 2.01 percent from 2002 that had grown to nearly $16 million.

Spending increases also are attributed to inflation and to utility costs and purchased services, such as tuition to other districts and an administrative software system.

The proposed budget continues the district's system of tying personnel to student enrollment. It includes a 30-person reduction in staff, most of them teachers, as the student population drops about 1,000 students.

The Toledo Board of Education already has approved an appropriations budget. It allows the district to spend money to keep everything moving while the board takes more time to finalize the budget to include the contract changes and to alter its budgeting format to a three-year projection rather than just for the upcoming year.

A public hearing on the budget is planned for

5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the board room of the Thurgood Marshall Building, 420 East Manhattan Blvd. The board is expected to approve the budget when it meets July 29.

Projections show the district's budget will break even for the 2009-2010 school year and be in deficit by 2010-2011, Treasurer Dan Romano said.

The district has a 4.99-mill operating levy set to expire at the end of 2009 that needs to be renewed to keep the nearly $16 million it generates annually.

The district hasn't had any new operating money since 2001, Mr. Romano said, but needs to obtain some to offset the projected $26 million deficit for 2010-2011 school year.

Discussions to do that are getting started, he said.

The upcoming presidential election is expected to generate a large voter turnout, so now could be a good time to ask voters to support the schools, school leaders said yesterday at a school board business and finance committee meeting.

But it might be difficult to gain support with the levy renewal on the horizon and talks under way about putting a bond issue on the ballot to get access to $37 million in capital improvements, they said.

- Meghan Gilbert

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