Article: Updates to the Five-Year Forecast Extend Budget to 2026

Updates to the Five-Year Forecast Extend Budget to 2026

Increased enrollment in the Lorain City Schools is a major contributing factor to an improved five-year forecast submitted to the state on November 30th. Other adjustments which improved the forecast include increases from the state’s school funding formula, and cost-savings resulting from efficiencies put in place in addition to an overall conscious effort to reduce spending in anticipation of the previously forecasted $13 million deficit.

“This is some much-needed good news right now,” shared superintendent Dr. Jeff Graham. “Instead of bracing for cuts to overcome a deficit, these budget increases will allow us to continue to stretch our funding, while growing opportunities within our district that keep our students engaged and excited about coming to school each day. The reason we’re in much better shape is because our students our returning to our schools. Our job now is to continue to listen and learn to ensure we’re building the schools our students and families want, and deserve.”

Previous enrollment projections from expert consultants assumed a continued and compounding loss of funds representing a decrease of 5% of students each year, which is consistent with the prior 3-year enrollment losses under HB70’s CEO model. Instead of declining, district enrollment increased by approximately 400 students in the 21/22 school year.

“During the pandemic it was difficult to properly assess student counts due to our remote environment and absenteeism issues,” Graham confirmed. “We took great care to have our October counts confirmed so that we had a true picture of where we are so that we can allocate resources appropriately moving forward.”

Lorain City Schools was also among those school districts to benefit from the passage of HB1, resulting in a two-year increase in state funding, with payments beginning this month.

“These updates are having a tremendous impact on our budget,” shared board president Mark Ballard. “Now, instead of having to go back to the ballot asking for new money this spring, we anticipate not having to do so for the next few years.”

The new five-year forecast projects the district to remain in the black through 2026, instead of through 2023, as previously projected. 

“As a board member, I can’t tell you what a relief it is for us to be able to tell our students, staff and families that we can return our focus to growth within our strategic plan. These past few months have been very difficult, as we’ve examined ways to make cuts to programs and staff that we know have an immense positive impact on our kids. Instead, we’re looking at brighter days in Lorain.”

Lorain City Schools will continue to explore opportunities to maximize funding moving forward, such as the best ways to utilize space, and providing programming which further attracts students to the district. 

“We know we have something special here,” shared Dr. Graham. “And our goal is to provide that something special for every student — whether through fine arts, robotics, athletics, or community engagement. At the same time, we’re continuing our commitment to wraparound services and community health, because we’re all in this together.”

The new five-year forecast will be discussed in detail at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, December 14 at 5:00PM in the Lorain High School Media Center. The public may attend in-person or view remotely via livestream on the TV20 YouTube channel.

Have questions you would like addressed in the presentation? Submit them here.

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