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Youngstown district projects deficit

YOUNGSTOWN — The city schools are expected to have a $7.2 million deficit at the end of 2025, based on current projections in the district’s five-year forecast provided to the Youngstown Board of Education on Tuesday.

Expenses may be affected by a new contract being negotiated between Youngstown City School District CEO Justin Jennings and the 400-member teachers union. The district has not had a new teachers contract in seven years.

Although a tentative agreement was announced Tuesday, no details were provided.

Members of the Youngstown Education Association still must approve the tentative pact. Efforts to reach YEA President Larry Ellis were not successful.

If salary increases are negotiated, then expenses in the five-year forecast likely will increase.

“When I became the CEO for the Youngstown City School District, I knew we needed to do more for our teachers,” said Jennings, who is in charge of district finances. “Too many were getting trained in Youngstown and moving on to other districts. We have dedicated, highly skilled educators in Youngstown and I want them to stay here. I think we’ve reached a fair and equitable agreement that I hope will do that.”

Next year, the district will begin negotiations with other unions.

No increases currently were projected in the five-year forecast for these union members, only step increases.

The budget deficit will occur despite voters recently approving a four-year renewal of a 10.8-mill levy that generates $5.3 million annually for district operations.

At the end of this school year, the school district is expected to have a $827,720 budget surplus. The budget surplus is expected to drop to a $215,637 at the end of the 2022 school year.

The school district will have budget deficits of $2,310,768 in 2023, $3,548,218 in 2024 and $7.2 million in 2025, according to the five-year forecast.

Board member Ronald Shadd expects the budget deficit in 2025 to be higher than the $7.2 million due to the contract negotiations with the various unions.

School board member Jackie Adair said the district should have been helped this year because school buildings are closed, with classes being online only, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the district received funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

These, however, are revenues that are not expected to carry forward into future budgets.

Adair said she would like the board to have financial work sessions to address issues in the five-year forecast.

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