BLADENSBURG — Only a handful of East Knox school community members turned out for the financial update forum held Wednesday evening at East Knox Elementary School. Board member Christy Keffer said she was disappointed with the sparse turnout.
“People want us to be open,” she said, “but not many community members came tonight. We aren’t hiding anything. ... We don’t know what else we can do to educate the voters about our finances and the levy.”
Those community members who did attend got an in-depth look at the district’s fiscal status. They also had the opportunity to hear from Pat Williard, financial consultant with Ohio Department Education.
Williard said the district’s financial forecast submitted in May projected a budget deficit. “By state law,” she said, “a school district cannot close the year with a red balance, so we placed you in fiscal caution.”
Williard, now a regular visitor to the district, said the general state of the economy didn’t help matters, and the fact that federal stimulus money is no longer available to schools doesn’t help, either.
Although Williard acknowledged the $1.7 million in cost containment measures taken by the district, she said it was not enough to move the district out of fiscal caution because deficits to the tune of about $1.5 million are still forecast for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1. She said if the levy fails in November, the district will be placed in Fiscal Watch by February. Also, she said more cuts will have to be made, and that can be a vicious circle.
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