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Published: Thursday, 6/26/2014 - Updated: 4 weeks ago

TPS opens up books, shares 5-year forecast with audience

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cleland Cleland
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The day after the Toledo Board of Education agreed to place a levy on the November ballot, district Treasurer Matt Cleland offered a primer for the public on school finance in all its complexity.

In particular, the session — formally a board meeting, but really a slide show-and-tell in which audience members freely offered questions — summed up the five-year financial forecast the district is required to file with the state twice a year.

Mr. Cleland detailed revenue totaling $319.4 million in 2014 — and by 2018 more than $327.7 million — from a range of sources, including local property taxes, the state budget, even $1.1 million in 2014 from casinos.

“We are glad the casino money is there, but it hasn’t been enough to make up for other losses,” he said.

He said the revenue forecasts do not take into account voter approval this fall of the five year, 5.8-mill levy before voters. That levy is projected to raise about $13.3 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $203 annually.

On the spending side, the five-year forecast shows salaries inching ahead, starting at $133.2 million in 2014, but largely steady at more than $140 million in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Mr. Cleland attributed a bump in fringe-benefit spending — from $52.3 million in 2014 to $74.6 million in 2018 — to costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.

The forecast projects ending cash balances of more than $22 million in 2014 and more than $13 million in 2015 cushioning the start of the following year, but negative balances of more than $39 million by 2018. He said such shortfalls several years ahead have been forecast before, and TPS boards have a record of making needed adjustments.

“[Toledo Public Schools] has done a fantastic job of being fiscally responsible,” Mr. Cleland said.

In constructing the forecasts, which are updated at least four times a year, “we consider every variable we possibly can come up with,” Mr. Cleland said.

Superintent Romules Durant said after the meeting, “This is another sign in regard to showing TPS is going to continue to be out on the forefront on the public side, and we’re going to continue to invite you in and encourage you to continue to get involved.”

The school board formally approved the latest five-year forecast last month. Board member Lisa Sobecki dissented because at that point there were no plans for additional revenue to offset projected deficits.

Mr. Cleland’s presentation, the district’‍s forecasts, and supporting notes are availablcan be found by going to the library tab under www.boarddocs.com/​oh/​tps/​Board.nsf/​Public.

Mr. Cleland plans to lead more such discussions.

“That’s my goal in this: Outreach and teaching and educating people,” Mr. Cleland said. “This has been scheduled since before there was a levy request. I have been doing this with our employees, even, because who understands school finances? It’s very detailed.”

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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