The district's state allocation to general funds was reduced by about $183,000 this fiscal year, the superintendent said.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- For a school district with a $23 million budget, a surplus of about $700,000 doesn't put the schools far ahead, said Poland Schools Treasurer Don Stanovcak.
"It's like going to McDonald's with $2," Stanovcak said. "We couldn't even make it through one week on $700,000."
A budget approved this week by the board of education appropriates about $23.3 million to school programs.
Of that amount, $15.9 million is general funds. The bulk of the rest is in capital projects funds, debt service funds and revenues such as fund-raisers, athletic events, nonpublic schools and state and federal grants.
Stanovcak said he expects about $23.9 million in revenues, including money from the state, property tax revenues and last year's budget balance. He stressed that the numbers are projections and could be affected by delinquent taxes or a change in the amount received from the state.
While the district will finish this school year in the black, next year's budget will put the schools in the red unless voters pass a new 3.9-mill five-year operating levy in November, said Dr. Robert L. Zorn, superintendent. The levy failed by five votes in the May election. It would raise about $2.1 million annually for the district.
Because the budget is tight and the future uncertain, Zorn said, no new books or equipment were purchased this fall through the use of general funds.
If the levy fails again, he said, the state will take over operations of the schools, Zorn said, and create a plan that could include cuts and would almost certainly include placing the levy issue back on the ballot -- perhaps asking for more mills -- until it does pass.
State funding reduced
A problem is that Poland, this fiscal year, has received about $183,000 less in state funding, Zorn said. As medical insurance costs rise, it is difficult to make ends meet, he explained, adding that the costs rose by 38 percent between July 2000 and July 2002.
Poland will join the Boardman and Canfield school districts at a forum next month to discuss the state of public education funding. All three districts are seeking new operating levies on the November ballot. The 7 p.m. Oct. 23 meeting will be in the Boardman High School Performing Arts Center.
Zorn said about 27 percent to 28 percent of Poland's general fund comes from the state. That is a low amount compared with the majority of general fund budgets funded by the state in districts with lower property values, Stanovcak said.
According to the state funding formula, taxpayers in districts like Poland are asked to pay more because, ideally, they have more ability to pay, the administrators explained.
Thus, districts like Poland are forced to turn to taxpayers for needed funds, they added.
The state's funding policy has been deemed unconstitutional three times, Zorn said, but state lawmakers have not remedied it.