Prepared Notes for House Education Committee
February 9, 2011
†Marc A. Schare Ė †
Chairman Stebelton, Ranking Member Luckie, thank you for allowing public participation in this process. My name is Marc Schare and I am the President of the Worthington City Schools Board of Education, however, I come to you this evening as a taxpayer advocate to oppose the portion of House Bill 30 that eliminates the mandatory 5 year forecast requirement.
The five year forecast provides an important roadmap and in some cases, an early warning system to residents of a school district. Through the forecast, disturbing trends can be identified years before they turn into crisis and if desired, corrective action can be initiated through a thoughtful phased-in approach to budget reductions rather than an immediate slash and burn. The forecast provides taxpayers with a view of the probable levy cycle of a school district. My home district of Worthington †has used our forecast to alert residents that without significant change, we will require local tax increases every other year in perpetuity. This allowed our district to build support for change by mathematically demonstrating the tax requirements necessary to support the status quo.
Allowing districts to choose between a 3 year requirement and a 5 year requirement is essentially allowing district leadership to deny this important tool to residents that are interested in the future financial health of the school district. It also denies taxpayers a look into the entire cost of new collective bargaining agreements, step schedules, compounding health care increases, new programs that are being phased in and other significant cost drivers.
Iíve heard a number of arguments offered by proponents of this change. The most compelling acknowledges the difficulty of forecasting 5 years out while the state is on a two year budget cycle. That is certainly true for the state portion of revenues, however, local property tax revenue and the entire expense portion are relatively stable given the impact of HB920 and the nature of employee salary schedules. Well written forecasts document the assumptions that went into the predictions so communities understand the foundation of the document. No one expects perfection 5 years out but wise districts will use this data to plan and make adjustments as necessary.
The LSCís fiscal analysis of the bill indicates no savings associated with this change, nor would the change result in decreased costs or time savings for local districts.
In summary, the five year forecast provides an important taxpayer advocacy tool and in the interests of transparency and constituent empowerment, †the legislature should not allow school districts to withhold this data from constituents. Thank you for your time.