WEST MILTON — Increasing insurance costs and questions about future state funding have left the Milton-Union Board of Education looking at a somewhat hazy five-year forecast.
“We’re kind of in a watch-and-see mode,” District Treasurer Kay Altenburger told the board during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. “We’re not sure right now.”
Required by the Ohio Department of Education, the district’s five-year financial forecast is still relatively unclear.
“Right now what I’m projecting is relatively flat revenue,” Altenburger said. “Expenditures increased in fiscal year 2019, and they will continue to steadily increase throughout the rest of the forecast.”
“We are projected in this year to deficit spend still,” she said. “Not as much as we thought, but about $100,000.”
One problem is unpredictable state funding, which currently makes up 52 percent of the district’s budget.
“We’re not sure what the budget is going to be from the state,” Altenburger said.
Rising health insurance costs are also a factor. After seeing a 17 percent increase in insurance rates during fiscal year 2019, the district is currently exploring its options for cutting insurance costs, which would change the five-year forecast significantly.
“We’re keeping a close eye on that right now,” Altenburger said of the insurance rates. “We’ve had a history of increases over the past seven years or so. The average increase was anywhere from four to five percent.”
This year’s increase was a surprise, but other local districts saw as high as 22-26 percent rate increases.
“We were one of the lower ones,” Altenburger said. “We were, I guess, fortunate to only receive a 17 percent increase.”
“We do have right now a contractor doing an exploratory review of our medical insurance to see what other options might be out there,” she said. “Should we stay with what we have and try to wait out this high-increase year, or is there something better out there? She should have an answer by the end of May.”
In other business, the board also heard an update on the arrival of a new school bus purchased by the district.
“The new bus arrives this Thursday, and they got the new routing software,” Board Vice-President Jessica Brumbaugh said. “They do have surveillance cameras now out on the buses, and also on the football field covering different angles.”
Board members also discussed the hiring of a new sheriff’s deputy to serve as the district’s school resource officer (SRO).
“They have selected an SRO for us,” Superintendent Dr. Brad Ritchey said. “I don’t know who that person is; I do know they had to hire somebody new. This is a full-time Miami County sheriff’s deputy for next school year.”
Board members also discussed the district’s inclusion in an upcoming conference at Wright State University (WSU).
“Milton-Union is a professional development district with WSU, which means we have a pretty strong partnership with them,” Dr. Ritchey said. “We will be represented as part of a panel of school officials at their session. Tracy Kramer and one of her colleagues did a proposal for the Ohio School Boards Association conference in the fall and it was accepted.”
The Milton-Union Board of Education’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. The board will also hold a special meeting on Thursday, June 27 at 7 a.m.
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