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Coventry BOE accepts positive financial forecast

10/17/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

The Coventry Local Schools star students of the month for October are, from left, Coventry Intermediate School fifth-grader Morgan Ross, Coventry High School senior Andrew Bullock, Coventry Middle School eighth-grader Brian Almestica and Turkeyfoot Elementary School second-grader Ava Tripodi.
Photo courtesy of Coventry Local Schools
COVENTRY — Coventry Local Schools weathered the storm of financial uncertainty and is now facing a favorable forecast for the next five years.

At the Oct. 15 meeting, Treasurer Aaron Butts presented the Board of Education with his latest draft of the district’s five-year forecast, which was accepted with accolades.

Butts was quick to point out the positive forecast would not have been possible without Coventry area voters approving a 5.99-mill levy and bond issue this past May. Passage of the levy and bond issue allowed the district to receive $11 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) (now part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) for a $39.3 million construction and renovation project in the district. A new ninth- through 12th-grade high school and gymnasium will be constructed through the levy/bond issue and funds provided by the OSFC.

Passage of the issue also is enabling Butts to pay down the district’s current debt, which is reflected in the latest five-year forecast.

He explained a five-year forecast is designed to provide a picture of where the district sits financially. Butts said he must create a five-year forecast twice a year and submit a copy to the Ohio Department of Education.

Before the approval of the bond issue/levy, the district had been forced to combat deficit spending by continuously decreasing expenditures, he explained.

“Expenditures were through the roof compared to our flat line of revenue,” he said.

The passage of the bond and permanent improvement measure put the district’s revenue over the expenditures, “as it should be,” Butts said.

Despite his prediction that Coventry would end the next five fiscal years with a positive balance, the treasurer said the board is committed to “stretching the dollar” to keep expenditures low and revenue up.

Butts said the board promised it would not come back to voters seeking new operating money, and he is dedicated to that goal.

He added that in about two years, the district would be back on the ballot with a levy renewal, but there would be no new taxes.

The approved financial forecast shows the district would end fiscal year (FY) 2014 with a positive balance of $42,618; FY 2015 with $933,827; FY 2016 with about $1.52 million; FY 2017 with about $1.53 million; and FY 2018 with $864,153.

“We now are in a financial position we have never seen before,” Butts said.

Superintendent Russell Chaboudy pointed out the district would have been “in the red” for the foreseeable future had the issue failed in May. This would have resulted in additional staff and program cuts and a district takeover by the state, he added.

Those with questions regarding the five-year forecast are encouraged to email Butts at abutts@coventryschools.org.

Following the presentation on the forecast, Butts discussed the current government shutdown and how it could impact school districts.

He said the shutdown soon could affect grant money Coventry receives for special education, lunchroom and Title I programs.

Due to the shutdown, the district had to move up the sale date for the $20 million bond issue, Butts explained. He added three financial institutions already expressed an interest in purchasing the bond issue before it hits the market.

Also during the meeting, Chaboudy provided an update on the renovation project in the district. He said new windows are being installed at Coventry Middle School, which also features a new roof. The new doors for the school building will be put on soon, he said. Chaboudy added the new heating unit at the middle school would be fired up this week.

The superintendent reminded those in attendance that community input still is wanted concerning the design of the high school. Community meetings will be held Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. at the Portage Lakes Kiwanis Club facility, located at 725 Portage Lakes Drive, and Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Coventry High School theater, located at 3089 Manchester Road, so the public can meet the project architect and share their ideas for the new educational facility. Before the 7 p.m. community meeting, at 6 p.m., the school board candidates running in the Nov. 5 General Election will discuss their goals and answer questions from the public.

Additionally during the meeting, the board approved the district calendar for the 2014-15 school year. Due to the district construction project, school will begin after Labor Day next year. Chaboudy explained the spring and winter breaks had to be shortened to make up for the late start. The calendar can be viewed on the district website at www.coventryschools.org.

Chaboudy also discussed security upgrades taking place in the district. He said Coventry is seeking a $26,000 grant to further fund the project. As part of the plan, security is being put in place at the Lakeview Administration Offices, specifically in response to someone recently found lurking on the property, possibly looking to steal copper, he said.

Before the meeting’s close, the board also:

  • recognized the district’s Star Students: Coventry Middle School eighth-graders Alyssa Roberts and Brian Almestica; Coventry High School senior Andrew Bullock; Coventry Intermediate School fifth-grader Morgan Ross; and Turkeyfoot Elementary School second-grader Ava Tripodi;
  • approved a supplemental coaching contract for Lisa Andrews, who will coach the high school varsity softball team for the 2013-14 school year;
  • congratulated middle school teacher and basketball coach John Murray for being selected to the All County Teaching Team by the Summit County Educational Service Center;
  • asked motorists to be extra cautious when driving through the district in the mornings, as students wait at their bus stops, often when it still is dark outside; and
  • thanked Akron Paint Inc. for donating paint and supplies so the fitness center could be repainted.

The next regular board meeting will take place Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Lakeview Administrative Offices, 2910 S. Main St.

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