Good news, bad news for BOE finances

EAST LIVERPOOL – The good news and the bad news appear to be the same in regard to finances for the city school district since last fall, the board of education learned Tuesday from Treasurer Todd Puster.

The board approved a recommendation authorizing Puster to submit an updated five-year forecast to the Ohio Department of Education as required by law, and he offered some comments regarding the district’s financial situation.

Puster said there has been little change in finances since October, which he said was good news and bad news but predicted a slow deterioration in the forecast over the next five years, saying, “We will have to make some decisions how to address that.”

The board is asking voters to renew an emergency levy on the November ballot, which Puster said is “very important to the district,” and outlined some areas where costs are overshadowing revenue, such as special education support services, curriculum materials and health care.

According to Puster, one area that needs looked at for possible reclaiming some revenue is school choice – that is, East Liverpool students choosing alternates to East Liverpool classrooms, such as open enrollment, cyber schools and voucher programs which take dollars away from the school district.

If just 10 percent of those students can be brought back into the district, $241,290 in revenue would return with them, Puster pointed out, saying that with the district’s arts, vocational program and academics, “We have a magnificent product to offer. This is a ship that can be righted.”

The board again tabled action on a request to purchase band uniforms, with the Band Boosters asking that the board pay the $27,313 up-front cost of 65 uniforms, with the boosters to reimburse half that cost.

Although a letter from the Band Boosters indicated that is how football uniforms are purchased, Athletic Director Robert Shansky said that was not accurate when asked by board member Bob Estell.

Puster said the board does have legal authority to spend money on extra-curricular activities but that the district historically has not because it cannot afford to do so.

He said the boosters pay for certain expenses, such as instruments and sheet music, which the board could assume, freeing up the boosters to pay for the uniforms, saying, “You would have the same end results.”

It was agreed that Puster will discuss the matter further with the boosters before any action is taken.