HUBER HEIGHTS — The Huber Heights City Schools Board of Education met in a special meeting Thursday evening as the budget was required by law to be updated by Oct. 1. The board viewed evidence of better district financial health as Treasurer Gina Helmick presented a positive five-year forecast which projected the district to be in the “black.”
Helmick told the Courier that the forecast is looking positive and that the district is not projected to start dipping into its cash balance until 2019.
“That’s mainly due to my estimates for state funding,” said Helmick. “But based on the current information I have regarding House Bill 54, those are causing like a $14 million surplus or positive amount — positive cash flow (over the life of the forecast). However, if state funding doesn’t go the way we think it is because we have two bienniums in that forecast, that will change the forecast completely.”
Helmick indicated that the forecast does include the negotiated agreement related to salary and benefits approved in August by the board in a three-year contract for 2015-18. Staff received a three percent on the base raise and education and steps were reinstated. A high deductible health plan with an HSA was also implemented in the contract that will save the district approximately $1.4 million a year on health insurance.
In addition to the health care savings, Superintendent Susan Gunnell told the Courier that the district is seeing the positive impact to the budget of the impact of significant reductions as well as 50 teachers who resigned or retired with an average of 27 years of experience. Their replacements have an average of seven years of experience, according to Gunnell. Some of those who retired did so to avoid negative changes in their retirement system that would have penalized their retirement intake if they had waited until later to retire.
Gunnell said the five-year forecast shows that the board has been “very fiscally responsible.” She said the district continues to monitor costs and be conservative in expenditures.
“For three or four years, we’ve been very limited on even purchasing materials,” she said.
She said the district has been able to purchase some needed materials this year as well as reinstating the arts program.
The board also approved reinstating the salary of Superintendent Susan Gunnell to her August 2012 rate of pay. When hired as superintendent in 2012, she was given an initial salary, but took a three percent pay reduction and freeze when the board approved reductions and pay cuts. At that time, teachers had taken a reduction through two furlough days with salaries frozen. When transportation was reduced, including to the high school, many transportation people had less hours than previously and some remain at a reduced rate, because there is still no high school transportation.
The board will meet in regular session at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8 at Valley Forge Elementary School, located at 7191 Troy Manor.
Reach Greg Smart at 937-684-8088 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com