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Coventry avoiding deficit this year

5/24/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Thanks to its association with a regional body that helps entities reduce costs through bulk purchasing and numerous cuts in staff announced two months ago, the Coventry Local Schools District will avoid a deficit this year.

Coventry Schools Treasurer Aaron Butts presented details of those decisions and other efforts to cut spending during a presentation of the district’s five-year forecast at the May 22 Board of Education meeting.

Butts told the board he was able to obtain a loan to defer $1.3 million in insurance payments until 2014 through the Stark County Council of Governments. In addition, he has deferred payment on about $200,000 in outstanding purchase orders until July.

Those moves, along with 20 cuts in staff and other moves announced recently, will help the district close the fiscal year ending June 30 with a balanced budget, according to Butts. However, Butts added he has projected the district will face a deficit of almost $1.8 million at the end of the 2013 school year and almost $3.5 million in 2014.

The board approved the forecast without comment.

In an effort to reach out to state officials on the district’s financial woes, a group of district parents has created a petition calling on Gov. John Kasich to “restore millions of dollars slashed from funding public schools.”

Those parents, some of whom spoke at the board meeting, are concerned that a “much needed” $2 million levy approved by voters in 2010 that was supposed to bring in funds to avoid the projected deficit was basically eliminated when Kasich cut $2 million in funding assistance to the district that same year, leaving the district short on operating funds.

Organizers of the petition are asking district parents to visit www.change.org/petitions/save-the-staff-and-library-at-coventry-local-schools to sign the petition.

In other business, the board approved a move from a seven-point grading scale to a 10-point grading scale, which Curriculum and Instruction Director Lisa Blough said is something that many other districts have already done. The new policy will help students remain competitive, recognize more students for their superior efforts, help them access more scholarship funds and bring them in line with college and other national education standards, she said.

Also during the meeting, the board:

• adopted pay-to participate fees for the next school year, maintaining them at the same level as last year;

• approved student fees for the next school year, with some increasing and others decreasing;

• approved a number of annual contracted services for the next school year; and

• recognized the following Star Students of the Month: Coventry High School senior Mary Claire Shaffer, Coventry Middle School eighth-grader Ben Sutter, Erwine Intermediate third-grader Miy Gotto and Turkeyfoot Elementary first-grader Maya Morrison.

The board moved its next meeting to June 26 at 6 p.m. at Coventry High School, 3089 Manchester Road.

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