Financial Forecast Remains Stable Thanks to Community Support, Responsible Planning
By Beth Collier, CPA
Treasurer/CFO, Grandview Heights Schools
October 9, 2019
On October 9th, the Grandview Heights Schools Board of Education approved the latest five-year financial forecast. Thanks to the support of our community and our focus on responsible fiscal management, the school district has a positive unreserved fund balance for the life of the forecast.
Eighty-three percent of our revenue comes from local property taxes and payments in lieu of taxes from Grandview Yard, which both represent an important source of funding for our schools. During the past year, the passage of a 1-mill operating levy and the renegotiation of the Grandview Yard school compensation agreement have helped provide a stable source of revenue for our school district. In fact, the new agreement has enabled the Board of Education to reduce the cost of the recently passed school facilities bond levy in half for Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff property owners.
State funding is also a critical source of revenue for our schools and represents 13% of our school district budget. For several years now, our per-pupil state funding has remained flat because Grandview Heights Schools is known as a “guarantee” district, meaning the district won’t receive less funding than it received in a previous year, despite the calculations of the current state funding model. The state funding guarantee for fiscal year 2020 is approximately $1 million. In every biennial budget, there is a risk that guarantee funds may be phased-down or completely eliminated. We will continue to monitor these funds in future state budgets and advocate for fair funding for our schools.
As well, Grandview Heights Schools no longer receives funds for the reimbursement of the tangible personal property tax, a source of state funding that provided as much as $1.5 million per year. This funding source was completely phased out in 2018.
When it comes to expenses, Grandview Heights Schools works hard to control costs where we can. One area of expenditures that we have focused extra attention on in recent years is employee health insurance costs, which have historically been one of the fastest growing costs for the district. From 2010 to 2015, our district experienced an average increase of 15% per year in health insurance costs.
In an effort to manage these rising costs, the district implemented a high-deductible health savings account (HSA) plan for medical insurance, and more recently began utilizing an insurance broker that works with the district to more aggressively negotiate with insurance carriers to seek the best deal possible. These actions have helped to reduce overall insurance premiums over the last four years and have been very impactful in stabilizing our financial forecast. Not only have we been able to manage costs, but we have actually steadily reduced them. These money saving initiatives enable our district to direct additional resources to the classroom where they do the most good for our students.
Sharing our financial story is an important way to show how Grandview Heights Schools provides an excellent education at a good value to taxpayers. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.