MARIETTA - The Washington County Career Center is projected to be in the black for the next five years, even as expenses overtake revenue, according to a forecast approved by the board Tuesday.
The five-year forecast, required to be submitted to the state every May and October, shows the district in deficit spending each year but with enough of a surplus to weather it through fiscal 2017. The carryover will decline from more than $3 million this year to $126,000 in the final year of the forecast, and Treasurer Joe Crone cautioned the board that the forecast is only a projection.
"One little slight modification can throw it one way or the other," he said.
From fiscal year 2009 through 2012, revenues exceeded expenditures in the district, but that is expected to change starting this year. Crone attributed that to, among other things, accelerated reductions in the state's reimbursements for money schools lost in the elimination of the tangible personal property tax on businesses and electrical and natural gas deregulations. That's a loss of $187,406 this year and $69,758 in fiscal year 2014.
Personnel reductions adopted in the spring helped save the district $190,000, even with an increase in health insurance costs, Crone said.
One of the biggest questions going forward is state funding. Ohio's bridge formula, put in place while Gov. John Kasich's administration develops a new school funding model, will maintain the district's state foundation money at about $2.2 million this year. But without a new formula in place, the forecast keeps that money at the same level going forward in hopes the state aid won't decrease, Crone said.
Washington County Career Center
Projected carryover at end of fiscal year
* 2013 - $3,078,599.
* 2014 - $2,587,171.
* 2015 - $1,915,926.
* 2016 - $1,093,386.
* 2017 - $126,359.
Source: Treasurer Joe Crone
The new federal health care law- and any changes that might come about as the result of the upcoming national election- will also impact the career center, although it's difficult to predict how at this point, Crone said.
The career center will need to monitor declining enrollment trends for most of the six Washington County school districts from which it draws students. While the center's enrollment has risen in recent years, "we won't, obviously, have as many to pull from" if those trends continue, Crone said.
In other business:
* Career center secondary director Mike Elliott told board members that six high school welding students in a pre-apprenticeship program with the Pioneer Group in Marietta were now working some after-school hours for the company. But the company and the school remain committed to having the students complete their high school education.
"They still have to graduate, so we're pleased with that," Elliott said.
Pioneer approached the center about starting the program -in which the students continue their academic courses in the morning, then train in welding at Pioneer in the afternoon - to help address a shortage of welders as its business increases due to the growing oil and natural gas industry.
* Superintendent Dennis Blatt said the center had sent out a request for proposals for companies to provide food service. A new setup could be in place next semester or might be delayed until the start of the 2013-14 school year.
The center provides its own food service, but Blatt has said bringing in an outside company could expand the offerings while keeping current staff in place.