Liberty schools looking to cut deficit

By danny restivo


The school district is looking at shared services in an effort to reduce the school’s five-year deficit.

Joe Nohra Jr., Liberty Board of Education president, said the school is looking at all aspects of its operation in an effort to curtail spending.

“If there is any savings involved, we will go with it as long as there is an adequate service,” said Nohra.

The school district is currently under a state- appointed financial planning and supervision commission after being placed in financial emergency in July 2011. After approving a $1.2 million deficit reduction plan that eliminated 16.5 full-time jobs, the commission is requesting an additional $1.4 million in cuts.

Based on the district’s five-year forecast, the school will be $10 million in the red by 2016.

According to Ohio law, a district must attempt to share services with other districts while under fiscal emergency.

“You have to at least look at shared services or your recovery plan won’t be approved,” said Paul Marshall, chairman of the state-appointed Liberty Local Financial Planning and Supervision Commission.

On Monday the board accepted the resignation of Treasurer Jim Wilson. Nohra said the position has yet to be filled, but it’s an opportunity to share that position with another entity.

Superintendent Stan Watson said the school doesn’t share any individual employees with other districts, but they do share special education services, including transportation, with the Trumbull County Educational Service Center. He welcomes the idea of more shared services.

“This is something a lot of districts are pursuing,” said Watson. “It’s something we’re interested in doing.”

Marshall said a staff analysis will be administered before the district decides what positions can be shared. Nohra said those areas and positions need to be highlighted before joining with other districts.

Nohra also said the board and the commission are hoping to have a joint meeting in front of the public in December. He and Marshall have not agreed upon a date, but both said a joint session would better serve the public, as well as their efforts.

“This always works best when its done collaborating,” said Marshall. “I think this is an effort on both our parts to come together and try to work on a plan.”

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