Having just heard Brookfield Local School District Treasurer Jordan Weber present his five-year forecast for the district, school board member Jerry Necastro remarked that the district’s near-term financial picture looks “pretty good.”
“But, I think that as we move forward, that’s where an operating levy really comes in handy,” he said. “We really need to be able to keep these numbers positive.”
Necastro was speaking of the permanent improvement levy on the November election ballot. The school has proposed a 2.3-mill, five-year levy to use for purchases with an expected life of greater than five years, such as building repairs and buying school buses.
The Trumbull County Auditor determined the levy would generate $337,000 a year, costing a person with a $100,000 property an extra $81 a year.
The five-year forecast reflects the state of Ohio adopting the Fair Funding Formula, which will benefit Brookfield to the tune of an extra $1 million this year and $500,000 in 2024-25.
The extra money, which led to out-of-the-ordinary raises for district staff, means that instead of expenses outpacing revenue in 2024, as had been predicted in the May five-year forecast, that won’t happen until 2028, according to the new forecast.
“In my mind, that’s not really giving us excess money; that’s just giving us the money that we’ve actually needed for years and years and years to survive,” Weber said. “That’s them finally funding the formula the correct way that funds us the way we need to be. It’s not like somebody getting a raise, it’s them getting backpay for where they should have been the whole time.”
Following the two-year bump, it’s expected state funding to the district will stay flat, while expenses will continually increase, Weber said.
“When I look at the programs that Toby and Kristen and the principals are putting in place, it’s obviously going to be vital for our facilities and the actual campus itself to match the level of the sophistication of the programs going on inside,” Weber said, referring to Supt. Toby Gibson and Director of Teaching, Learning and Accountability Kristen Foster.
That’s where the permanent improvement levy would be helpful, he said.
School officials have to keep school facilities “in the same condition that we have become accustomed to,” Necastro said. “We could very easily let it fall apart.”
Plus, Necastro said, he wants to “continually grow the district, and, as I say, not be reactive, be proactive. That’s where we need to be on both ends, not only in the classroom, on this balance sheet.”