Dear Perrysburg School District Residents,
Perrysburg Schools is at a crossroads. Our State Report Card Performance Index Score places us in the top 5% of school districts statewide. Perrysburg High School was named one of the Best High Schools by U.S. News. Hull Prairie Intermediate School is an Ohio Department of Education STEM-Designated School. Our most recent graduating class was offered over $14 million in scholarship awards. Our overall expenditure per pupil as well as our administrative expenditure per pupil are below the state average. We are proud of the work that our employees do every day to ensure all students achieve their greatest potential. We are proud of our amazing and talented student body. We appreciate the longstanding support of our community, without which these accomplishments would not have been possible.
Since 2008, our student population has grown by 21%, or 976 students. This is larger than the current population at our junior high school. Because of this explosive growth, Perrysburg Schools is in need of additional revenue to maintain our current level of services to this rapidly growing student population. The Board of Education voted unanimously to place an operational levy on the November 5, 2019 ballot for this reason.
The same reason the Board placed this levy on the ballot also triggered the Auditor of State, in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education, to conduct a performance audit of Perrysburg Schools. The report has now been released, and it paints a stark picture of how our school district would look without additional operating revenue, in other words, if the November 5 levy does not pass. Steps the auditors have outlined would result in an immediate $7,015,500 reduction annually to the budget, including the elimination of 98.5 jobs. To put this in perspective, this is more employees than we currently have at Ft. Meigs and Frank Elementary Schools combined.
The recommendations include:
• Eliminate 49 teachers
• Eliminate 10 custodians
• Eliminate 9 student support staff members
• Eliminate 9 support staff members
• Eliminate 8 technology and administrative support employees
• Eliminate 7.5 operational employees
• Eliminate 6 administrators
• Eliminate 24 new general and special education teacher positions budgeted due to projected growth over the next four years
• Eliminate the General Fund subsidy of extracurricular activities, including athletics and performing arts
• Implement a salary base and step freeze for FY 2020-21 through FY 2022-23
• Renegotiate collective bargaining agreement provisions beginning in FY 2021-22
• Decrease employer cost of medical insurance
The audit report states: “Although these options would eliminate the deficit in each year of the forecast, it could drastically change service levels within the District.”
No matter how you feel about school funding, this is the reality for Perrysburg Schools. The Auditor of State’s recommendations to be implemented in the event that there are no additional operating funds would create a school district unrecognizable to the community. Every student in the school district would be impacted by the required cuts, and the school district would have trouble attracting and retaining quality employees.
We take the management of taxpayer dollars seriously. We share information regularly with the community and are very responsive when citizens have questions. The financial issues we are facing are not due to our stewardship, but rather how the state funding model and our growth have created the perfect storm. In fact, in this same report, the Auditor of State identified “significant accomplishments” and “exemplary practices” found in Perrysburg School District, specifically in the areas of Strategic Planning and Financial Communication.
The report details the challenge with the state funding formula for Perrysburg Schools, where over $3.5 million annually is not sent to the school district by the state in part because of our rapid growth and the property wealth of the school district.
Even with the significant reductions outlined in the report, at the end of four years—if there is no additional revenue—the school district would still only have $1,987 in its cash reserve. The school district would be placed on Fiscal Watch or Caution by the Ohio Department of Education based on the lack of cash reserves even having implemented these drastic reductions. Ohio school districts have little choice in the matter of funding as we are quite limited in how we are able to fund our operations.
Perrysburg Schools leaders are reviewing the audit report and incorporating some of the recommendations into our own reduction plan that would be implemented if the levy were to fail in November. While there may be slightly different components between the plans, the end result of cutting $7,015,500 annually is the final destination that must be reached if no additional operational funds become available this year. Regardless of the outcome of the levy, the information in this report will be examined as we continue to grow and evaluate our services.
I welcome any questions you may have.
Thomas L. Hosler