Pettisville schools face state cuts

By David J. Coehrs -

Ohio’s proposed biennium budget looks to take a bite out of state funding for Pettisville Local Schools, but Superintendent Steve Switzer said the district will survive the injury.

At last week’s Board of Education meeting, Switzer reported the school district is projected to lose $67,758 in state assistance in Fiscal Year 2018, and that amount plus an additional $4,916 in Fiscal Year 2019. According to information from the Ohio School Boards Association, the Pettisville school district is the only school district in Fulton County to suffer a loss in FY 2018.

Switzer told the school board the culprit is residential enrollment loss. Those enrollment figures decreased 8.8 percent between fiscal years 2014 and 2016. The superintendent said while declining student numbers and income have been offset by open enrollment increases, continued student decline could create more difficulty.

About 236 students open-enrolled at Pettisville schools last year, each worth about $6,000 in state money for the district. Switzer said open enrollment helps balance the loss of state funding, which is measured by the number of students in the district.

Ohio currently determines a school district’s wealth – and subsequently what funding it receives – through a formula determined by dividing valuation by the total number of students. As the district loses students it appears more wealthy, and is funded according to those projections.

Based on that formula, OSBA established the average wealth of Fulton County school districts over three fiscal years to be: Evergreen, $199,774; Pettisville, $174,353; Archbold, $174,259; Fayette, $151,261; Swanton, $137,409; Pike-Delta-York, $133,228; Wauseon, $106,113.

Those statistics include funding for tangible personal property tax reimbursement.

Switzer told the school board the district’s budget numbers aren’t positive but they can be weathered. He said more positive results from the Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget created a positive cash flow last fiscal year of $306,035.

With that money, “At this point, we should be good for the next several years,” he said.

He added however, that other financial factors could combine to threaten his outlook. “It’s a challenging situation,” Switzer said.

Board of Education member John King said the school district has been fortunate for several years to build a cash balance.

“That said, it’s certainly going to hurt when we experience that kind of cut,” he said.

Still, King is confident the school district will endure.

“Am I alarmed? No. Disappointed, yes,” he said. “Probably not overly-concerned, but it’s something we’re going to be watching. In the short term, we feel like we’re okay.”

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.