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www.wmfd.com - Mansfield City Schools will seek $3,685,000 from the state's School District Solvency Assistance Fund to avoid a deficit when the districtís fiscal year ends on June 30. }}" />

   
 
 
City schools seeks state funding to avoid deficit

Story By: Brigitte Coles

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 2/21/2014

Mansfield City Schools will seek $3,685,000 from the state’s School District Solvency Assistance Fund to avoid a deficit when the district’s fiscal year ends on June 30.

The request for the funds will be made by the four-member Financial Planning and Supervision Commission which is developing a financial recovery plan to eventually lift the district out of state-declared fiscal emergency.

Commission chair Paul Marshall, a fiscal consultant with the Ohio Department of Education, said the district will be required to repay the money over two years, starting in July.

“This is just an advance. In essence, it is an interest-free loan,” he said.

 The state will deduct approximately $153,541 from the per-pupil foundation money it sends to the district each month until the assistance is repaid.

The commission, meeting Thursday in conjunction with the Mansfield City Schools Board of Education, voted 4-0 to make the request from the Solvency Assistance Fund. Joining Marshall in the vote were commission members Mark Brunn and Jill Haring of Mansfield and Sharon Hanrahan of the Ohio Office of Budget Management.

The $3,685,000 is the district’s expected deficit on June 30, as certified by Laura Brown of the auditor of state’s office. Brown presented a detailed analysis of anticipated district revenue and expenditures for the balance of the fiscal year.

“What really put the district behind the eight ball was not getting a renewal levy passed in November 2012,” Marshall said. “The district lost $3.7 million in tax revenue, about the same as the deficit that is coming on June 30.”

The commission must submit a financial recovery plan to the auditor of state by May 2. It will include a reduction of teaching and support staff.

Marshall emphasized that getting the district out of a deficit fiscal posture will not be a quick fix.

“My gut reaction is that it’s going to take us a while to get out,” he said. “We, the commission, are doing what we have to do. We will probably need to take actions that we would prefer not to, but are necessary. It’s going to take a while. It’s not going to be a year, two years or three years. It’s probably going to be longer. The first thing we have to do is stop the bleeding.”

Marshall repeated his earlier statement that the commission wants to work “cooperatively and collaboratively” with the board of education for the good of the district.

“We want to involve you in the process,” he told the board Thursday. “A recovery plan is the commission’s responsibility but we’re not in a position to make specific recommendations. We will have to make the decisions but we need your input about what will cause the least amount of damage to the district.”

As chair, Marshall will continue to work with Superintendent Brian Garverick and district treasurer Rosetta Stephens on the elements of the recovery plan. The full commission will meet again on March 27 and April 29.

The commission was established by law after the board of education in November acknowledged that the district could not overcome its current deficit and “reluctantly” asked the auditor of state to declare Mansfield City Schools to be in fiscal emergency.

   
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