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10-18-06 No new school levies predicted for a few years

By Janie Southard

  No new Celina school levies appear to be on the horizon for the next few years, according to the five-year financial forecast approved at Tuesday night's board of education meeting.

  Although the forecast, which is required twice a year by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), shows the district spending more than it takes in at fiscal year 2008, it also shows cash on hand to take care of that deficit. The next projected deficit is $4.2 million in fiscal year 2011, according to the district treasurer.

  "Yes, we need to keep looking at cuts and reductions, but keep in mind, the forecasts are based on current assumptions. By the next forecast (in May 2007) the assumptions used now will have changed. That's why the state requires two a year," Treasurer Mike Marbaugh explained following the meeting. The treasurer agreed assumptions can and do change overnight.

  The value of five-year forecasts is primarily for planning purposes to stay abreast of rapid changes.

  State funding makes up the largest of the assumptions school treasurers employ as they calculate the required forecasts because state funding also is the deepest funding pocket for the majority of Ohio's schools, according to Marbaugh.  "The five-year forecast can't be the be-all and end-all of running the school system. This is something that has to be continually monitored, and that's what we do," he said.

  The next ballot item will be in 2008 when the 0.75 percent income tax levy, which currently generates about $2 million annually, is up for renewal. That levy will expire in December 2008.

  The recent state report card for Celina schools shows the system a point short of an excellent rating. School administration and board members are actively addressing a remedy. It was the category of average daily progress, which kept the district in the effective rating.

  (AYP measures the progress of students in subgroups to meet the proficient level in reading and mathematics. As defined by the ODE, the 10 subgroups include African American, Hispanic and special needs among others.)

  "We didn't meet AYP (average yearly progress) on the state report card because of math scores in the middle grades. We have already begun to address this situation, but the Ohio Department of Education wants schools to use ODE framework and action steps," Superintendent Matt Miller said following the meeting, adding he and other school administrators have formed a partnership agreement with the West Regional School Improvement group to satisfy those state requirements.

  In Celina's case the prevalent subgroups measured are economically disadvantaged and special education students. It takes 45 students to make up a subgroup, a number impossible for many area schools with small populations.

  The new state mandate, called Value Added, which is expected to slide into the education mix next year, will follow along the lines of AYP but will measure the proficiency of all students individually.

  "At first this will measure academic growth of students in grades 3 through 8. One of (Value Added's) best features is that it will shed light on how 'average' kids are doing or how our 'struggling' kids are progressing. As we know, not all students make A's or are on the honor roll," Miller said.

  This new mandate will eventually be an added measurement on the state report card.  


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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822