Cuyahoga Falls City School District leader says district faces many changes

Phil Keren Published:

by Phil Keren | Editor
Silver Lake — The Cuyahoga Falls City School District will face many fiscal and academic challenges and changes during the next several years, according to its superintendent.
Dr. Todd Nichols gave his “State of the Schools” address to the Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce at Silver Lake Country Club Nov. 28. A total of 95 people attended the luncheon meeting.
Nichols opened with a discussion of some of the fiscal issues the district is facing.
In October 2011, he said revenues were projected at $47.819 million, and appropriations totaled $47.789 million. When the May 2012 five-year forecast was prepared, Nicholas said the district “identified a need to reduce revenue projections to $45.782 million.”
“To cover the shortfall in revenue, we reduced our appropriations by nearly $1.9 million mid-year,” said Nichols. “But were not able to close the gap any further and finished the year in deficit spending by $218,000.”
In October, the district projected revenue in fiscal year 2013 to total $45.93 million, while the projected expenditures are $46.334 million.
“We’ll have to do all we can to meet our goal of revenue over expenditures,” said Nichols. “… our year-to-date fiscal position is good … to date, we are roughly $1.5 million ahead of this time last year.”
The district passed a replacement levy in May 2011 that was slated to generate almost $4 million in additional revenue.
“Unfortunately, we were also hit with a $2.7 million reduction of state support, a decline in property value from $800 million to $735 million and an increase in delinquencies from $1 million to $2.5 million over the last two fiscal years,” said Nichols. “Therefore, the replacement levy is not generating the revenue that was projected; however, if it had not passed, the district would be in far worse financial condition.”
He noted officials will have a clearer picture of the financial condition as December unfolds, and added that state budget talks will begin in February 2013, followed by contract negotiations with two of the district’s three employee unions.
“Over the last 10 years, revenues have slightly outpaced expenditures,” said Nichols. “But with the current trend, our bottom line is in peril, which will make long-term contract negotiations very difficult.”
The district has also experienced an $800,000 reduction in federal funding in the last fiscal year.
Nichols added the district will soon seek approval of a permanent improvement levy to maintain buildings and grounds, update the bus fleet and purchase technology.
“… We have a clear and exciting vision of what the school district can become, and the direction of the district will likely be in the hands of the voters each of the next 10 years,” said Nichols.
There are 70 more students enrolled in the district right now compared with the same time last year and kindergarten enrollment has increased by 48 students “as a direct result of [the] all-day kindergarten program,” the superintendent said.
The district has a business advisory council which has created career courses in the middle schools and are designing the course selection guides in the middle schools and high schools around a set of career clusters and pathways.
“… We have identified liaisons from each of the clusters who will work with our teachers and students to expose and educate our students on the career choices at the middle school level and the choices they will have at the high school and post-secondary levels,” said Nichols.
The district’s career programs include: Kids and the Power of Work; Principal for the Day; career day programs at each of the elementary schools; and a partnership with Summa Western Reserve Hospital.
The Cuyahoga Falls Schools Foundation is currently doing a Tiger Trail project “which is using engraved bricks embedded into a redesigned entrance to Clifford Stadium as a joint fundraiser that will hopefully bond all of our support organizations,” said Nichols.
The superintendent said the district will work to respond to the changes planned at the state level in the common core standards, principal and teacher evaluations, the state report card system, student assessments, the pension system and the funding formula.
All-Day Kindergarten, Bring Your Own Technology, and Early Release Wednesdays for professional development are some of the new programs the district has implemented this year.
“This is a time of unprecedented change and we need unprecedented support to navigate the waters of change,” said Nichols. “Be patient with us, get involved in the Plan for the 21st Century.”
Nichols gave a Power Point presentation at this meeting; This presentation, as well as additional information, can be viewed on the district’s website at www.cfalls.org.
E-mail: pkeren@recordpub.com
Phone: 330-541-9421

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