By Mick Davis, Treasurer, Indian Hill School District
At the Indian Hill Board of Education Special Meeting Tuesday, May 25, I shared an update to the District’s five-year financial forecast. Presented twice a year, this important planning tool is required by the Ohio Department of Education. The forecast aligns our income and expenses to our District’s current and future goals with respect to academics, operations, and facilities.
This has been a remarkable year for the Indian Hill School District. In November, when we last approved the District’s five-year forecast, ours was a fiscal story of significant unknowns due to the ongoing pandemic, the economy, and with our local revenues. Since that time, the picture has stabilized on all fronts – most specifically the approval of the 5.43 combined May 4, 2021 operating/bond levy.
On behalf of the Board of Education, the administration, the teachers, and the staff members of the Indian Hill School District, I want to offer a sincere message of gratitude to the Indian Hill School District community for supporting the excellent educational services our District provides.
Thanks to the support of our community, our District will be able to address the serious and substantial needs within our facilities. The bond is a 30-year financial commitment that will generate approximately $77 million for our facilities – that total includes the replacement of Indian Hill Middle School and the replacement of the Indian Hill Elementary School sawtooth wing; security upgrades at every building; and necessary mechanical upgrades across the District.
The $77 million construction project will not be directly reflected in the five-year forecast as its proceeds will not be put in the general fund. However, its indirect reflection will be seen in reductions to the purchased services and capital outlay lines. For years, the District’s general fund has been funding repairs and remodels. However, the construction project will account for repairs to roofs and mechanical items throughout the District. Constant service and repairs made to the Indian Hill Middle School in the past will no longer be a burden to the District’s general fund as well as relief from replacing furniture and carpet throughout the District. Capital outlays in the forecast will focus on items such as school buses and technology.
The levy passage also helped to stabilize our daily operating budget. The operational portion of the levy is a five-year commitment generating approximately $3.3 million per year so our District can maintain our nationally recognized educational experience that offers unparalleled opportunities in academics, the arts, and athletics for our students. In November, the District’s forecast was for a deficit in each of the five years of the forecast. However, with the increase to the property tax and the District’s forsaking any capital improvements for this year, 2021 is forecasted as a surplus. The District’s new $3.3 operations levy will allow the District to forecast surpluses in each of the remaining years of the forecast. Our District will have an option to place a renewal of this levy on a future ballot.
CARES ACT & ESSER Funding
One of the biggest unknowns in November was related to the pandemic. As we explained in our April financial update, our District is receiving federal funding through the CARES ACT and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). These funds are for the purpose of providing targeted financial assistance that will offset expenses the District endured as a result of COVID-19. These are one-time funds to meet pandemic-related needs – needs which we may not have otherwise met within our budget. We will receive $1.05 million in ESSER funds. The District plans to use these funds to help cover the costs associated with summer school, necessary technology investments that were made to sustain the 2020-2021 school year, and health and safety equipment invested in for the 2020-2021 school year that allowed our District to offer in-person learning options. In fact, 92% of school days included in-person learning with 86% of those days in school five days per week.
Continued Conservative Fiscal Management
Looking at expenditures specific to this five-year forecast, fiscal year 2021 will finish with a lower salary total and a lower benefit total than last year. This is due to the outsourcing of our custodial staff at the conclusion of fiscal year 2020. This resulted in a savings of nearly $300,000. Further savings for benefits in 2021 were achieved by significant rebates from the Bureau of Workers Compensation and those rebates are not anticipated in future years. Healthcare makes up a large portion of the benefits line. We have estimated 8-9% increases in healthcare for future years. However, the SWOOSH consortium continues to operate above industry benchmarks and often sees renewals at less than that amount.
Again, thank you for the continued support of our schools. You can count on continued timely financial updates. Should you have any questions about our District’s finances, please contact me directly.
Indian Hill Exempted Village School District
Posted May 26, 2021