By: Bill O’Connell
The Delta Board of Education (BOE) remotely held their April meeting using a YouTube internet service to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the district’s current financial status, the five-year forecast and, most importantly, the ongoing education of their students.
With the state mandated school closings beginning in mid-March, there was little effect on the March financials as reported in the monthly summary by Treasurer Matt Feasel. “Revenue received for the month of March didn’t quite measure up to what we would have liked to have seen but at least we know why,” said Mr. Feasel.
“The March manufactured home settlement was a couple of thousand ($2,729) less than we thought it would be. Investments (income) are down due to some of our short-term investments. We had projected one more payment from Worthington Industries’ last donation agreement, but it actually started a year earlier than we had record of. ”
“The homestead rollback reimbursement was a little less than we projected but that can vary based on the number of homestead exemptions filed along with delinquencies. On the year-to-date comparison, revenue is up 1.33% or $160,919 over March 31, 2019.”
On the other side of the ledger, Mr. Feasel said that expenditure levels, including payroll, was right on target with what they had projected. “We still remain under budget for the year in the fringe benefits area,” he added. “The purchased services area of the budget continues to remain the area of most concern.”
“We’ve spent 80% of the budget and we are three quarters of the way through the year. Purchased services is actually showing a 4.35% decrease over the 2019 expenditure level. That is indicative of the reductions we’ve made within this area. The goal is to remain within the projected levels.”
Looking forward at future revenues, there was concern expressed over tax reduction appeals being made by Worthington Industries and Nexus. The ten-year tax abatement given to Worthington has come to an end and the company has filed an appeal with the Tax Board of Revisions to decrease their taxable value.”
“Previously, the estimated value of the Worthington property was $8,800,000 and they have requested to have that value reduced to $6,000,000. “We’ve done a little bit of research,” stated Mr. Feasel. “The total value of that property is $10,585,000. We have filed an appeal after having a discussion with the County and we’ll see where that goes.”
Annual taxes from the Nexus pipeline were estimated to be $306,000 or 62% of the initial value. The District received $152,000 in February with the balance due in August. Nexus, however, has filed an appeal with the Ohio State Board of Taxation to have the amount reduced to 50%. No decision has been rendered at this time.
Superintendent Ted Haselman addressed how the District was handling the enormous disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic during the past month. “From a District perspective, distance learning is going very well,” he said.
“I want to stress how hard everyone is working, showing flexibility where needed, having positive attitudes. I’m very proud of our students, our staff and parents. The District’s staff, teachers, and administrators continue to monitor student work completion and have connected with families to ensure any possible barriers have been addressed.”
“Now more than ever is a time for flexibility and compassion. Understanding the best place for students to learn is in the traditional classroom, we continue to work hard to provide an accessible curriculum for all. We believe we are being effective and we are doing the best we can under the circumstances.”
Dr. Haselman also commended the food service and transportation departments for their hard work in ensuring the students are receiving meals that they would normally be forgoing since they are not physically in school.
Towards the end of the meeting, Board member Dr. Michael Mattin asked if there was any consideration given to allowing the students the option of taking classes for letter grades or pass/fail. “The concern that I have regarding pass/fail is we don’t know really what that ramification can be down the road for students, particularly those students who may be looking at NCAA eligibility,” responded Dr. Haselman.
“The Ohio Department of Education said we have the flexibility to go pass/fail but the clearing house for the NCAA has not ruled on whether or not they will accept pass/fail down the road. It could be where a kid has a pass/fail on his transcript that could hinder that situation.”
There is still the possibility that Ohio schools will be back in session before the 2019-2020 academic year ends. However, if not, a major concern for all high schools is what to do in terms of a ceremony for the graduating seniors. “We are committed to having some sort of graduation for our 2020 graduates,” emphasized Dr. Haselman.
“We are unsure at this time when or how this will look as we are waiting for more guidance on these types of events, large groups, gatherings, before moving forward. We do not want to promote a plan and then have to make adjustments to the plan. Having this guidance will allow us to create promote and carry out a ceremony for these graduates and their families.”
In personnel news, Dr. Haselman requested the Board to accept the resignation of high school principal Kristie Reighard effective July 31, 2020. “I want to thank Kristie. I believe that building has moved forward over the last four years and I appreciate the work she has done there and good luck in the future,” he said.
The next meeting will take place on May 20, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. The format of the meeting will be determined at a later date.
Bill can be reached at email@example.com