Lakeview Sees Gloomy Financial Future | News, sports, work

  Lakeview Sees Gloomy Financial Future |  News, sports, work

“I wish I had better news,” Miller told the board of education during its most recent regular meeting.

CORTLAND — Lakeview Local School District Treasurer Sean Miller called the district’s five-year forecast “bleak,” adding that current projections put the district in the red by the end of fiscal year 2025.

Highlights

  • At the same time, state funding has “held flat,” for about 10 years, and it appears that it will remain flat or decrease slightly, Miller said.

  • He said the district is essentially operating on “2010 dollars.” Taxpayers have not been asked for new money for general operations in more than a decade — a 2015 levy was specifically to build and maintain the new K-8 building.

In fiscal year 2021, the state restored about $180,000 of that money but still left the district some $186,000 short of where it had been prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2020, the state cut funding to the district by $366,000 with only a month left in the district’s fiscal year, when most expenditures already had been paid.

Meanwhile, expenditures have increased as a result of unfunded state mandates, such as the College Credit-Plus program — “which is a wonderful program,” Miller said. “It allows students to take college credit and we pay the bill, essentially, but we get no extra revenue for that.”

Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor also pointed to the increases in day-to-day expenses like the increasing cost of fuel for buses and food.

“Everywhere we look, it’s a little bit harder to get things,” Taylor said. OPEN ENROLLMENT

The district also has seen an increase of students enrolling in schools outside the district through open enrollment. The district loses approximately $576,000 to open enrollment, while it receives only about $345,000 for outside students enrolling in the district — leaving a net loss of about $230,000 per year, Miller explained. District students attending charter schools cost an additional $478,000, he said.

Assistant K-8 principal Ryan Stowell, who is pursuing a superintendent certification, studied district open enrollment as part of his coursework. Taylor, who recently presented some of Stowell’s findings to the board, said that he found the majority of families he talked with are transplants to the district who keep children enrolled in their original school district in order to not disrupt their social lives. The next largest group enrolling students outside the district was comprised of students with a family member who works for another school district.

The five-year forecast shows the district finishing this year, fiscal year 2022, with just over $2 million, but that money has to last through mid-August, when schools begin receiving fall property tax money. This past July, the district spent $1.3 million, Miller said. “If that were true in July of 2022, we would begin August with only $700,000 available. It starts getting close,” Miller said.

WHAT’S AHEAD Taylor said she is hopeful that once COVID-19 vaccinations are “commonplace” for school children, some families who enrolled students in virtual schools will return to the district. She said Lakeview also has to be more targeted when it comes to bringing outside students into the district by making sure families know in which grades there are openings.