The board approved the five-year forecast, which includes the approved budget for this year along with projections for the next 4 years. Forecasts are due by the end of October each year. Treasurer Debbie Caudle always forecasts realistically but conservatively. She included the approved budget numbers that are guaranteed for this year and next; she then held those steady for fiscal years 2018-2020. There is no telling if those numbers will stay the same, increase or decrease, as each budget is only two years and Governor Kasich will not be in office for the next budget.
Mrs. Caudle built in standard increases for all line items (such as supplies & insurance) based on recent past history. She also built in expected personnel needs, based on projected enrollment, and included $500,000/year for technology. Technology needs would include things like upgrading/updating systems and hardware, plus needs for increasing student achievement in the classroom. Right now, since this is a just a projection and not a budget, there is no set plan for this money – we may end up spending less than this, but administration and board members felt it was important to have the flexibility to have the funds set aside if needed.
Based on all of this, the district is projected to end Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019 – June 2020) with a carryover of $15.1 million in the bank. It’s important to remember that school districts “live” off their carryover balances for as long as possible. The simplest way to explain it is that schools are funded by a combination of federal, state and local funding (operating levies). Milford’s local funding is by far the largest portion of our funding. But each operating levy is for a set amount: if the voters approve, for instance, $5 million/year in an operating levy, the district collects $5 million/year this year, next year, and in 10 years – there is no inflationary factor included, and the amount does not increase with property values. This means the district’s local income does NOT increase to cover increasing costs – which is why levies are needed every so many years. For a district like Milford where funding is so tight, you can kind of think of levies as inflationary adjustments.
The goal is for districts to reduce costs and find any possible alternate sources of funding to stretch these levies as long as possible. The Milford community passed a levy in May 2013. The district promised that levy would last at least 3 years, but pledged to stretch it to 4.
If this forecast is close to accurate, we will not need to run another levy until at least 2020 – which means we will have stretched that 3 year levy to 7 years. Of course, not knowing what the state will do past FY2017, and not knowing what other mandates will be implemented, we cannot promise anything, but that is the goal and expectation right now. And if the state should somehow come through with even more funding (we are still “owed” $700,000/year from the funding formula, which we hope will come through beginning FY2018), it may be possible to stretch even longer.