By Jody Miller
BATH TWP.: The Revere Board of Education approved the district’s five-year financial forecast presented by Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer David Forrest last week.
The forecast, which shows little change from the May report, indicates relatively flat general fund revenue from 2013 through 2018, hovering around the $33 million total per year, but with an increase in expenditures – from $32.8 million to $35.6 million – during that same time frame.
Revere will be able to operate in the black through school year 2017-18 with limited utilization of cash reserves, according to Forrest. In addition, the forecast states that the goal of the Board of Education is to “make budgetary decisions over the upcoming years to enable the district to be in the black through fiscal year 2020 (seven years) which is very possible …”
Strategies to contain the escalation of staffing costs, both in salaries and health care benefits, have been implemented by the board, according to the report, including a staff reduction incentive for teachers nearing retirement, an incentive-driven wellness plan and the formation of a medical consortium.
The report also details the financial uncertainty of the district based on the state’s “… key policy decisions, which would have significant, detrimental financial implications for K to 12 public education.”
Among the policy changes cited is the uncertainty regarding: the potential expansion of the school voucher program, the Tangible Personal Property hold-harmless reimbursement and the school funding formula from the state, especially as it relates to “high wealth” districts, like Revere.
The forecast explains that the three major communities making up the Revere District – Bath and Richfield townships and Richfield Village – are not experiencing rampant residential growth. That would indicate that enrollment, while continuing to increase, would not be exponential. That said, two of the district’s four school buildings are at capacity, which is a factor in short-and long-term facilities planning.
Both of the district’s bargaining units are in the midst of three-year contracts, expiring in July 2015, per the forecast. In addition, revenue from the state’s casino operations, which Revere received for the first time in fiscal year 2013, was $55,520, a rate that is estimated to be similar for purposes of this forecast.
The last time the district went to the voters for new money was in 2011, and that additional funding not only offset revenue losses (recent property reappraisals, elimination of hold harmless payments from changes in public utility taxes and tangible personal property taxes, among other losses) but has also lengthened the operating levy cycle. The district’s five-year emergency levy (renewed most recently in 2011) will be up for renewal in calendar year 2015 or 2016.
The forecast is one where, according to Forrest, “revenues remain relatively flat and the assumption is the [five-year emergency] levy will be approved. We do have very modest growth in tax revenue but nothing like our historical growth over the last 15 years.”
This forecast to the state is mandated for school districts and is required to be updated and submitted to the state twice a year.