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Poland forecasts five good years

School board reviews finances

POLAND — The Poland Local School District is optimistic about its financial future after two less-than-ideal fiscal years through the pandemic.

Janet Muntean, chief financial officer and school district treasurer, presented the district’s five-year forecast, which she said looks entirely different from previous years.

She said the pandemic along with House Bill 110 caused significant funding changes for school districts. House Bill 110, the two-year state operating budget for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years, was approved in July and made changes to the funding formula used by schools. Muntean said the changes made by House Bill 110 had the biggest effect on the financial forecast due to the reorganization of some funds.

The forecast shows the district being on track toward its financial goals despite the pandemic.

The district expects to see a cash balance of $7,553,819 at the end of this fiscal year, with a projected ending cash balance of $8,727,961 at the end of the five-year forecast in fiscal year 2026.

This year’s beginning cash balance was $6,708,784 with a revenue surplus of $845,035. The forecast predicts a steady increase, mainly with the help of levy funding. Muntean said the levies are vital in funding the district, and the district would lose millions of dollars each year without them.

Some projections, such as the cost of supplies and materials and staffing changes, continue to trend upward, but Muntean said most districts are dealing with similar worries due to the labor shortage and increase in prices.

Muntean said the district experienced 45 personnel changes throughout the year. Recent hirings have the district optimistic enough to continue its goal of class size reduction in the next five years. Superintendent Craig Hockenberry is a proponent of the goal, and aims to hire more teachers gradually over the next few years in order to reduce class sizes overall.

The only concern with meeting this goal is the projected increase in enrollment. At last week’s work session, Hockenberry reported an increase in enrollment, especially in the preschool and kindergarten age groups. The preschools in the district’s boundaries have nearly 200 students enrolled.

“Those are all potential students that live in our boundaries,” Hockenberry said last week at the work session. “We have 142 now, so we could potentially far exceed so, so we’ll have to monitor this very closely.”

The district also is inching closer to paying off its debt, which has been a longtime goal for Muntean. She said the board will have the option to pay off the district’s debt in 2026 with no penalty.

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