State’s budget restrictions affect repairs at R-VIII

By Shari Harris,

During his June 1 COVID-19 briefing, Governor Parson announced over $209 million in additional expenditure restrictions for the state due to COVID-19. Of the $209 million, over $131 million will come from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
 “We have already had to withhold over $220 million dollars due to budget concerns resulting from COVID-19,” Governor Parson said. “In addition to these restrictions, we will be restricting another $209 million dollars in June.”
The Licking R-VIII School District receives 52 percent of its funding from state revenue. The budget restrictions enacted by the state impact the R-VIII School District now, at the end of FY 2019-2020. However, the district has been advised to also expect a 10 to 20 percent decrease in state funding for FY 2020-2021.
According to Superintendent Cristina Wright, most expenditures have been completed for this fiscal year. Expenses for the district were decreased during the COVID closure. Transportation costs were down and food costs were covered by grants, which provided the meals that were distributed to families. CARES Act money helped offset faculty pay during the closure as well. Despite these savings, roof work and HVAC repairs slated to be done at the end of this fiscal year had to be tabled due to the state funding reductions.
Wright credits the conservative school board with keeping the budget in the black despite the state funding cuts. The challenge during the 2020-21 fiscal year will be to make ongoing adjustments to the budget depending on what funding is received. With the unprecedented changes to our economy due to the COVID pandemic, there is no way to know for certain what to expect.
No layoffs or other changes in staffing levels are anticipated at this time due to the state’s budget restrictions. One vacant position at the high school created by the retirement of Dr. Hatch will not be filled. Electronic alternatives will be made available to teach the advanced science classes.
Difficult decisions will be ahead for the new school board, assembled with its newest members for the first time Monday night, June 8.



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