Riverside School Officials Speak Out

We have previously written about the State of Ohio’s drastic cuts in public school funding:
https://lobbyistsforcitizens.com/2020/05/10/state-budget-cuts-for-public-schools/

Looking for answers, we sent the following email to Dr. james P. Kalis, Superintendent, and Mr. Gary A. Platko, CFO of  the Riverside school district:

Mr. Platko & Mr. Kalis:

We have been researching the State of Ohio cuts in funding due to the Covid-19 economic shutdown.  We have discovered that the State plans to reduce the Riverside School District funding by $1,119,055 (13.4%)
However, we know that the passage of the Lake County Financing District levy on the March 17th (April 28th) primary election should increase the revenue to the Riverside school district by approximately, $600,000 – $700,000  due to the change in the allocation of the funds from enrollment to the property tax base for each school district.

What are the plans to cover the shortfall?  Will there be cuts in expenditures, or are you planning to place another property tax levy on the November, 2020 ballot?

*********************1776
LFC received permission to publish their response.  We thank Dr. Kalis and Mr. Platko for being transparent with the voters in the Riverside school district.

Thank you for reaching out. We are certainly shocked by the 13.4% cut in our state funding this late in the fiscal year. We all knew cuts were coming, but this is much more than the “overall 3.7%” that we were anticipating. The cuts are heavily weighted towards districts like Riverside.

Discussions are ongoing on how we will address this cut in revenue. We expect additional cuts for fiscal year 2021 that begins on July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, the increased revenue from the renewal of the Lake County School Financing District will not be realized until calendar year 2021. However, Riverside will be receiving approximately $426,070.29 (net of non-public obligation) in Federal CARES Act funding passed through the Ohio Department of Education. We will also realize some savings from reduced expenditures such as fuel, utilities, nurses, substitute teachers, paper/copying, supplies, etc.

We will be adjusting our budget for next school year and are hoping to have some clarity soon as to what the school year will even look like. Offsetting the revenue cut will be achieved through a combination of reduced expenditures and using some of our cash reserves.

There is no plan for any type of levy for the November 2020 ballot. The Board of Education decided at its April 28 meeting that it will not proceed with a bond issue in November either. (emphasis added by LFC)
******************************

Mr. Platko’s email to Governor DeWine:

Good morning Governor DeWine,

Thank you for your leadership during this unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly resulted in many difficult decisions, and I thank you for your efforts to keep Ohioans safe.

I certainly understand the need to make significant cuts to Ohio’s budget. I am sure making a $300 million cut to the education budget was a difficult decision. There is no doubt this is necessary, but I wanted to share the impact to the Riverside Local School District in Lake County.

Riverside is set to lose $1,119,055, which represents 13.4% of its annual state funding. Sadly, there are 49 districts facing a higher percentage loss of their annual state funding. The spreadsheet released by OMB shows a column that represents the cut as a percentage of expenditures. Based on this metric, Riverside’s cut is the sixth highest in the state! A cut of this magnitude so late in the fiscal year is devastating, and we are unable to make adjustments this late in the year to offset this cut.

Riverside’s three remaining state foundation payments are nowhere near enough to cover this loss. If this money needs to be recouped by June 30, Riverside’s final three payments will be reduced to zero, and we will need to write a check back to the state of more than $475,000. In addition, we will need to write a check of $124,500 to SERS and $349,608 to STRS because there would not be enough funds to deduct these amounts from our remaining state foundation payments as well.

Certainly, the federal CARES act funding can be used to offset these cuts. However, the use of different formulas to allocate the CARES funding and to calculate the state budget cuts results in many districts receiving a significant windfall while others are left with significant cuts of 10% to 55% of their annual state revenue! If the state budget cuts and CARES funding used the same formula, the $400+ million in CARES funding available (net of non-public obligation) can easily offset the $300 million in state budget cuts.

No district should receive a windfall while others face significant losses. I am hoping this was an unintended consequence of using different formulas. In addition, online charter schools should not receive millions of dollars in CARES funding, as the mandated school building closure should have a much smaller impact on these e-schools as compared to brick and mortar schools.
I urge you to take action to correct this inequity as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know if you have any questions or can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,

Gary A. Platko, CPA

Treasurer/CFO
Riverside Local School District
585 Riverside Drive
Painesville, OH 44077


Categories: Concord, Education, Lake, Lake County Cities & Townships, Uncategorized

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