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School board talks finances

November 8, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - The city school board will start examining its financial options as state and federal funding sources begin to be reduced.

The board members on Wednesday reviewed a letter sent this week from Roger W. Hardin, assistant director of the Quality School Choice & Funding-Finance Program Services, who encouraged the city school district "to continue monitoring your district's financial condition, enter into appropriate discussions with board members and stakeholders and take the necessary financial actions that will eliminate the projected deficit."

Hardin noted the school district's current five-year forecast projects a negative unreserved fund balance exceeding 2 percent of revenue beginning in fiscal year 2015.

"We are looking at a zero balance in two years," said Superintendent Mike McVey.

"The state has been reducing our tangible income tax. Approximately 78 percent of our funding is state tax based. And we are also seeing our federal funding starting to dry up," explained McVey.

"We may have to look at a levy or a reduction in staffing in the future. If we reduce staffing we would like to look at retirements and cuts in personnel through attrition. We may also examine our open enrollment options. Unfortunately the city school district is not in a position to receive any money from the oil and gas drilling industry as other school districts have realized," McVey said.

District Treasurer Lisa Bruzzese said the board and administration need to make a plan to resolve the issue.

"We are talking about cash. We do have a carryover but we need to develop a plan and work together as a team," added Bruzzese.

In other business during the 90-minute meeting, the board agreed to table a proposal to join the Progress Alliance Partners in Progress.

McVey had recommended a three-year agreement with Progress Alliance at a $5,100 cost. But Board member Dr. Michael Giannamore said he preferred to table the issue.

"I don't have enough knowledge to make a decision. I would like to look at this more before I would be willing to vote on this," said Giannamore.

Board Chairman Bill Hendricks and board member Greg Agresta supported the proposal.

"I think this is being proactive. And it doesn't hurt to be up front," Hendricks said.

"It is important to stay in the forefront of economic development. We have to be proactive," added Agresta. But board member Edward Littlejohn said he had questions about joining the organization, and board member Ruth Ann Bruzzese said she will attend the next Progress Alliance meeting later this month and report back to the board.

Progress Alliance Executive Director Ed Looman said the economic development agency has been functioning for the past 16 years.

"We have three primary functions, including bringing business to the county, help existing businesses and market the county to attract people to live here. We are starting to see a significant increase in interest by potential businesses. Our county is prepared to really take off in the next three to five years," Looman explained.

During the meeting the board approved Helen DeMaria and Ruthann Rankin as additional substitute teachers for the 2012-13 school year and;

Approved the renewal of a membership in the Ohio School Board Association.

Authorized appropriation modifications.

Approved a contract with LEX Multimedia for advertising for the Harding Press Box sign as well as the information sign at Steubenville High School.

"If the company sells advertising, then we get a share of the proceeds as well as the company representative. If they don't sell ads then they don't receive any money," said McVey.

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