District sees deficit in five-year forecast

by Laura Bednar

Nov. 21 board of education meeting

Treasurer Matt Brown broke down the Nordonia Hills City School District finances, offering suggestions to correct the projected deficit spending in his five-year forecast.

In Brown’s forecast, district revenue is $56.3 million in 2023, which decreases to $53.3 million in 2027. District expenditures are projected to be $57.7 million in 2023, rising to $63.1 million by 2027. This results in deficit spending from 2023-2027.

District revenue is generated by property taxes, state aid and financing sources like tax increment financing and school fees. Property taxes are the largest revenue source, and Brown forecasts valuation growth of $91.1 million over the next five years and new construction growth of $10.6 million over the same time frame. Residential and commercial real estate comprise 96% of property taxes in the district.

Brown said the passage of House Bill 126 limits the district’s ability to challenge property valuations and prohibits private payment agreements between the school district and property owners.

The largest district expenditures are salaries and wages. Brown predicts there will be a base increase in salaries of 1% in fiscal year 2023-24 and beyond and $95,000 spent annually for retirement payouts. Salary-based benefits will increase along with wages.

The district used $1.3 of its $3.6 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding for salaries and wages in fiscal year 2021-22. It will spend $182,000 of the remaining ESSER funds in fiscal year 2022-2023 for salaries and wages associated with guidance counselors, psychologists, building and community interventionists, and summer school staff. Supplies and materials are expected to cost 8% more in 2022-23 due to inflation and supply chain issues and increase 3% the following years.

To reduce deficit spending, Brown suggested insurance premium holidays, when the district would not pay for an employee healthcare premium for a pay period; analyzing expenditures for staffing levels and operational costs associated with the facilities; and considering an additional operating levy.

“It’s inevitable because the way that schools are funded, our expenditures will always in the long term exceed revenue,” said Brown. “At some point we will have to go back to the property tax payers.”

Athletic success

Athletic Director Rob Eckenrode recognized Nordonia High School cross country runner, senior Chris Turner, for qualifying for the state tournament, being named All-Suburban League and running in the sectional and regional meets.

He also recognized the NHS girls golf team for winning the Suburban League National Conference championship and for being the first golf team in school history to qualify for the state meet. ∞