Saturday, September 20, 2003

Fairfield Schools battling red ink

Tax issue might be put on March ballot

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - For the second consecutive year, Fairfield Schools will spend more money than the district receives, prompting school officials to begin considering options including a ballot issue that could come as early as March.

"This year we're OK,'' said Treasurer J. Scott Gooding. "But we're looking at a $3.7 million deficit by (2004-) 2005.''

The district is expected to receive about $64 million this school year in its general fund - which pays for day-to-day operations. However, spending is set at nearly $68.5 million.

The nearly $4.5 million difference will come from carryover balances and the district's rainy day fund, Gooding told the school board Thursday.

In part, the financial woes are the result of a $30-per-student drop in the base aid that Ohio school districts receive.

The loss will amount to about $5 million over five years, Gooding said.

The district is also losing money because of a change in how money is divided between Fairfield and Butler Technology and Career Development Schools. The money had been divided 25-75 between the student's home school and vocational school. This year home schools receive 20 percent, resulting in a $105,000 loss, Gooding said.

Over the next several weeks, school officials will study several options and review finances before making a recommendation to the school board, said Superintendent Robert Farrell and Gooding. The filing deadline for the March 2 primary - there will be no February or May special elections - is Dec. 18.

Fairfield Board of Education President Anne Crone said the board has not discussed the matter or made any decisions on ballot issues.

"We have to look at all avenues and then decide what to do."


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