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Published: Thursday, 10/29/2009

TPS pegs fund as source of financial help if needed

Toledo Public Schools has designated a place from which it could borrow money in case it needs help paying the bills through January.

The Toledo Board of Education has authorized district leaders to borrow up to $5 million from its bond debt fund. The intent is to use that money if there is a delay in local tax collections that the district receives at the start of the year.

There are three pay periods in December and if the local tax collection is even a little late in January, it could hurt the district's ability to make payroll, Superintendent John Foley said.

"Essentially if we run into a cash-flow problem, that would give us the authority to borrow from that debt fund to make sure the cash flow is solvent," he said.

The administration would again come before the school board before borrowing the money, Mr. Foley said.

The district would pay back the money to the bond debt fund before the end of the current fiscal year.

The school district has a balanced budget for this year, but it is a tight one.

TPS anticipates a $30 million deficit in fiscal year 2011 that is predicted to grow to $71 million the next year.

TPS also is in the process of establishing an audit committee with external members for additional oversight of its financial information.

The finance committee of the school board has conducted the oversight, but the state auditor is suggesting districts have separate audit committees, Mr. Foley said.

"It's an effort by the district and the board to be transparent and to engage the community in the process," Mr. Foley said.

The external members on the audit committee include: Scott Scarborough, University of Toledo's senior vice president for finance and administration; Gary Akenberger, senior vice president of finance and strategic business development for ProMedica Health System, and John Moore, chairman of Owens Community College's board of trustees and who has more than 30 years in the banking industry.

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