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West Branch looking at deficits beginning in 2023

BELOIT – Even with several staff cuts and a consolidation of district schools, the West Branch Local School District will likely need additionally money in the near future to maintain its current level of educational services, according to the school treasurer.

The school board last week approved the update five-year financial forecast presented by school Treasurer Julia Rozsnyai which shows a positive cash balance this year and next, before dropping into a deficit in fiscal year 2023 when it falls to almost $722,000 in the red and finishes the forecast at negative $2.43 million. The forecast also shows a deficit spending of $312,000 this year which grows to over $1.7 million in the final year.

Rozsnyai noted the forecast maintains the current level of operations including the projected savings of $267,177 in salaries and $103,025 in benefits, as well as $53,435 in utility costs, from the closing of Knox Elementary.

Before her presentation, Rozsnyai told the board the forecast includes all the financial information known to the district at that time. She said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been numerous changes across the state and there will continue to be many unknown circumstances that will affect the district’s budget.

The forecast includes the $343,465 cut in state funding announced in May plus a projected doubling of that amount for next year. Rozsnyai said the pandemic has also resulted in less than projected operational costs due to the school closure, but will most likely mean an increase next year for cleaning and upkeep of classrooms.

Other factors in the forecast include capital outlay, which addresses capital improvements to district facilities and equipment. Rozsnyai said the forecast include several capital improvements that need addressed within the five years, such as two bus purchases, roof repairs and parking lot maintenance. The projects increase the annually reservation of $300,000 annually to $535,000 in the second year and $435,000 in each of the following ones.

Rozsnyai said with the annual deficit spending, the cash balance is dwindling, making it hard to continue with the current level of operations. She said despite previously, and continuing to, spend conservatively and following a performance audit conducted in 2017, the district will need new money, such as a levy, in the near future.

Rozsnyai said she is creating a financial advisory committee and encouraged community members to participate. Anyone interested in serving on the committee may contact Rozsnyai at Julia.Rozsnyai@WBWarriors.org or 330-938-3533.

The five-year forecast and presentation are available on the school board’s website at www.westbranch.k12.oh.us under the BoardDocs link, May 28 meeting.

khowell@salemnews.net

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