Looking over Brookfield Local School District’s five-year forecast, school board President George Economides was optimistic.
The forecast, a twice-a-year state requirement, shows the district expects to have money in the bank at the end of the year, eliminating the need to borrow from the state, he said at the board’s Oct. 5 meeting.
Expenses are down and have finally slipped under the gently rising tide of revenues, he said.
“Everybody’s worked very, very hard,” Economides said. “The nice thing is we are out of debt. We did pay off the loan. We’re not in dire shape.”
Economides’ optimism was not shared by board member Kelly Carrier.
The state, which is overseeing the district’s fiscal emergency, has the final say on board activities through the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, she said. The district is not allowed to increase expenses and must work to have two months worth of expenses on hand as cash, she said.
Such restrictions do not allow the board to work toward providing the kind of education it wants students to receive, she said.
“I think we need the support of the community to raise revenue, so we can provide the quality of education that we want,” Carrier said. “This really is a community issue. We need to get some partnership from the community and buy-in from the community as to the kind of education we want to provide here.”
Economides agreed that some of the state requirements are too tough,
“They have to remember we’re in the education business,” he said.
Board member Tim Filipovich said the board has followed the state’s plan and must continue to do so.
“I don’t see any other course of action at this time other than to do what’s before us,” he said.
With the state’s plan concentrating on holding the line on expenses, or cutting them, Filipovich said it’s time to look at the other side of the balance sheet.
“I think we have an obligation to seek revenue in some way,” he said.
While the district has “historically struggled” getting operational levies passed, as Carrier descrbed it, it might be time to try for a permanent improvement levy, which could be used for computers, textbooks and buses, she and Filipovich said.
“I think we’re doing as good a job as we can,” said board member Ronald Brennan. “We have to keep shooting for the bullseye in the target knowing we’ll never hit it.”