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Alexander Local Schools to Receive Less State Funding

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The Alexander Local School District will receive less state funding in the next two fiscal years than what it received from the state in fiscal year 2009.

This, according to Aaron Schirm, Treasurer and CFO of the Alexander School Board, who at Thursday night’s meeting presented an updated five-year budget forecast and described revenues for the next two years as “flat.”

Schirm said the school district has been “flat funded” since fiscal year 2009, and that no increase in revenue funding from the state would be forthcoming. He added that when legislators in Columbus pass a new two-year budget next month the district will remain on a “guarantee” that will amount to roughly $1.35 million or 14 percent of the district’s budget.

Schirm said that student enrollment in the district is down — there are 140 fewer students than there were in 2009. He added that under the new funding formula, an additional 200 students would be needed in order to see any funds come to the district.

“We’re doing everything we’ve been doing on the same money from six years ago,” said Supt. Lindy Douglas.

The state formula for school district funding considers property values in the district and student enrollment as factors in determining funding levels. Because of both fewer students and district property taxes that are as low as what’s allowed by law, state assistance funding will not be increased.

“We’re not taxing ourselves as much as the state thinks we should be,” Board President Fred Davis said. “We have the challenge of both staying current and being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”

Schirm said enrollment projections are done by looking at census data for birth rates in the district and then compared to subsequent enrollments in kindergarten five years after those births. These figures allow for the projection of future student enrollments, which determine state funds.

Schirm commended the board for its long-range planning instead of making as needed cuts, for not making extravagant purchases, and for finding ways to save money wherever possible. Board Vice President Mike Chapman agreed, saying efficiency upgrades to the heating and cooling of district buildings had saved the district money.

Members of the public asked about the impact of the planned wellness center and whether the expense of the project had been factored into these numbers.

Schirm said that the board has allocated $500,000 for the project, with the rest of the funds expected to come from either donations or through revenue generated by a facility sharing arrangement with Holzer Health Systems.

“The cost of the facility is a one-time capital expense,” said Schirm. “It’s not a regular expense in our five-year estimates.” He also said that the new facility would allow the district to eliminate some existing expenditures for things like portable toilets.

When complete, the school district will be responsible for the maintenance of the entire facility, including the part occupied by Holzer, although cleaning and other staffing will all be done by Holzer.

“Holzer will be entirely self-sufficient,” said Douglas.

Hocking Valley Bank asked the board to consider allowing it to purchase naming rights for the new gymnasium. The board voted 5-0 in favor of consideration.