Thursday, March 03, 2011

TPS projects $97.6 million deficit by 2015

I posted the press release from the Buckeye Institute when they announced their "Six Principles for Fixing Ohio." As a follow-up to that report, today I received this blurb:

School District Financial Projection Charts

As a supplement to the "Six Principles for Fixing Ohio," school district charts from the fiscal projections have been developed for Ohio's 613 school districts. Roughly 91 percent of the school districts project deficits in their ending cash balances by 2015. The aggregate deficit for all schools exceeds $7.6 billion. By 2015, compensation package costs will swallow 96 percent of projected revenues. With only 4 percent of revenues remaining, no amount of cost-savings outside of compensation package cuts will ease the expected deficits. Thus, school districts will either have to dramatically increase revenue via higher tax levies or make cuts to compensation packages or a combination of both actions.

Click here to view the charts.

For Lucas County, you can begin on page 46 of this report. What I read in the report alarmed me.

Toledo Public Schools reported that their personnel costs in 2010 are 71.4% of their total revenues. For 2011, they're projecting a $3 million increase in revenue and the personnel costs drop to 64% of income. But they're projecting that their revenues will drop steadily from 2011 to 2015 - by $59.9 million (a 17.5% decrease). Interestingly, they're projecting increases in expenses of $38.8 million by 2015 - 11.3%.

This means that, by 2015, personnel costs at TPS will eat up 91.4% of their income resulting in a $97.6 million deficit. Remember - these are TPS's own figures.

Buckeye estimates that "by reducing compensation package costs by 10
percent and limiting future growth to 3.2 percent,"
their budget deficit could be reduced to $86.6 million.

So a 10% reduction in compensation costs coupled with limiting growth in spending to only 3.2% will save us $11 million by 2015.

Now, public agencies routinely estimate decreasing revenues and increasing costs, so without going through each of the line items, I cannot say if these numbers are realistic or not. But these are the numbers directly from TPS and they show that in four years, they'll be spending only 8.6% of their revenue to spend on items other than their personnel (buildings, utilities, books, supplies, transportation) and their budget deficit will be gigantic.

No amount of spending cuts - on school buses, after school programs, sports, etc... will address the huge hole they're heading into. And voters rejected their last levy request because, well, we're tapped out too. That was a 7.8 mill levy estimated to produce $22 million per year. To get to their projected deficit of $97.6 million, they'd probably need around a 34 mill levy. I just don't see that happening.

The 'transformational change' TPS has been talking about can save some money over time, but at an estimated savings of $25 million, it won't be enough to address their projected deficit of $97.6 million.

As personnel costs will be the largest component, only a restructuring of those costs can address the issue. But is there the will on the TPS Board to take the necessary steps? Only time will tell.


Timothy W Higgins said...


Somehow it seems disappointing that TPS wasn't able to cross the $100 million threshold. Of course such jokes are easier to make when my taxes are no longer going to support this fiscal sink hole.

skeeter1107 said...

For them to survive, obviously radical change is in order. Otherwise they will soon find themselves as a Ward of the State.

I would recommend that they reorganize as an operator of Charter Schools. To explain, they should simply become a Charter School operator. I say this with the assumption that they could still collect local property taxes.

The trick would of course be to organize themselves in a way that is similar to other operators like the Leona Group. If so, it would create huge savings financially and provide an avenue to continue on.

If not, they will implode....soon.

Greenracks said...

In 20-25 years our "new" schools will be falling apart. We will not have the tobacco money to finance the majority of the costs. I think between the costs of building new schools (since we are not very good at maintaining them), and the cost of teachers, we will have made the transition to "virtual" classrooms (hopefully, in the kid's home). The cost of a computer is a lot cheaper than building classrooms (even if we use trailers to house the majority of the student population).

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