Southern forecast is cloudy
SALINEVILLE — With finances up in the air across the state, Southern Local passed the five-year forecast Tuesday while predicting it could need to be revised as soon as next month.
Treasurer Greg Sabbato said he has not yet adjusted the budget because at this point, they do not know what the final amounts that each district will lose. A recently released list showed the state taking $110,872 away from Southern Local as the state attempts to right a projected $750 million shortfall brought on by the coronavirus.
However, Sabbato said he has heard estimates the Ohio schools could lose up to 10 percent of their foundation money, which would be a big hit to the budget. A large portion of Southern’s budget each year is foundation money.
Sabbato said back during the 2007 and 2008 housing crisis, schools lost 7 percent in foundation support and that was only one sector of the economy. This current situation is effecting both income taxes and sales taxes, where the majority of state revenue comes from.
Additionally, Superintendent Tom Cunningham said all the schools are awaiting guidance on what next school year may look like in the fall. There are all sorts of ideas, including bringing in students part-time on a rotating schedule or having younger students spread throughout the buildings while older students start the school year online.
Cunningham said the school does not have the funding to put up plexiglas around all the teachers’ desks and placing six-foot space around each student eats up a lot of space in the classrooms. Even lining up to send the younger students to the restrooms just can not happen anymore, Cunningham said.
Still with so much uncertainty, there are plans being made. Assistant high school/junior high principal Ron Sines provided the board with the list of elective classes for the high school next year, which include a lot of classes such as gothic literature, sports literature, aviation, science and technology of food, journalism, high school officiating, American history through film, forensics and surveying.
Through the New Castle School of Trades, students will be able to choose to learn welding or industrial maintenance during classes held on Fridays. Additionally, Bill Watson, director of the Shale Academy, reported to the board they have applied for two grants, which could bring new programs and $400,000 to fund them back to Southern Local. One program would be a new area of study for the students, while the other would help identify areas where students have a weakness in math or English and get them caught up.
Following an executive session for employment purposes, the board took no action. Prior to going into executive session they had tabled the two-year administrative contract for Sines.