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Riverside cautiously optimistic about financial forecast

Riverside Pirates

Pirate Academy’s first year celebrated

With another school year drawing to a close, Riverside Local Schools Treasurer Jennifer Blackford updated board of education members at their Tuesday evening meeting on a number of financial successes for the 2014 fiscal year.

She said the district has been able to continue its five-year reversal of a previous deficit spending pattern, and the five-year forecast also shows all positive year-end balances through the end of the forecast in 2018.

“This has been a really good year for us,” she said, noting that total 2014 revenues were 7 percent above 2013 revenues, while  2014 operating expenditures decreased about 4.8 percent.

“Looking back just a few years, our district was in a financial crisis. This turnaround that we’ve experienced is completely contributed to the reductions and cost-savings that have been put in place.

“Now we’re going be able to put money back into the schools to invest in education. We’re looking at smaller class sizes already starting next year and implementing new technology and courses.”

According to the five-year forecast that was approved by the board, Riverside is predicted to conclude the current school year with a fund balance of $1.925 million. Year-end fund balances for the next two fiscal years are $2.488 million and $2.575 million, respectively.

Ms. Blackford said the forecast incorporates changes that soon will take place to the district’s income tax levy. Riverside’s current 2 percent income tax levy expires at the end of 2014, and then will be replaced with a 1.75 percent income tax levy.

Regarding state funding, the treasurer said the district received an increase in its State Foundation Funding during 2014. Next year, Riverside is slated to receive a 2 percent increase in these funds, and then a slight decrease in funding during the final three years of the forecast.

During the past year, Ms. Blackford said her three financial goals for the district have been met, which included stabilizing current levy sources for the general fund, exploring new grant opportunities and developing a 10-year plan to address permanent improvement and capital needs.

Relating to new grants for the district, Superintendent Scott Mann and High School Principal Andy McGill reported on the first year of the approximately $100,000 21st Century Community Learning Center federal grant.

This grant provided funding for the start of a new program called the Pirate Academy, which has offered before- and after-school activities for grades 7-12 throughout the school year. Sessions focus on improving academics, career exploration, community outreach and physical fitness.

The final two Pirate Academy sessions for this year are June 3 and 4, and participants will go canoeing and also visit Marmon Valley Farm.

Mr. Mann said the grant will continue for four more years, offering additional students with the chance to benefit from the Pirate Academy.

“Our staff members are to be commended for all of their efforts to run this program,” he said. “The professional attitude and good manners that are being developed in the children are phenomenal and are preparing them for future success.”

In personnel matters, members hired two new teachers, Danielle King, fifth- and sixth-grade science, and Chelsea Overly, third-grade; for the 2014-15 school year. A one-year contract also was extended to Elizabeth Myers, fifth-grade, for the upcoming school year, which will be her second year at Riverside.

The resignation of Corey Britton, junior high/high school social studies, head varsity girls basketball and girls golf, was accepted at the conclusion of the 2013-14 contract year. He has taught in the district for one year.

The board also accepted the resignation of Karen Wisse, family and consumer sciences, at the end of the school year. She will continue to work at the Riverside Schools building next year, but will be employed through the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center for the satellite campus at Riverside.

In other action, the board:

 

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