Moreover, said Bertram, district attorneys have determined the $11.7 million in federal grant money can be used for the operating and other expenses the district had targeted for elimination.
Chris Urso, president of the board, said members will continue to identify and approve the series of proposed cuts, as required for ESSER fund eligibility, but then would suspend those reductions and instead use the federal funds to cover the targeted expenses for up to two more years.
The ESSER grants are good through August of 2023.
“If (by then) the district is still having financial struggles, or things haven’t changed at the state level with state revenue (via the pending biennium budget) … we would look at implementing the cuts at that time,” said Bertram.
Urso said when the board does identify financial reductions in its next meeting on March 22, “those cuts would not impact next year’s schools, or the (school) year after that.”
Other financial variables remain for the district’s $76 million annual operation budget.
In April 2020, the district reduced its operating budget by $2 million.
Also unknown is the level of state funding the district would receive under Ohio’s next biennium budget, which saw earlier this month the start of preliminary negotiations among legislators that will led to state budget’s final approval by June 30.
The rising costs of the coronavirus pandemic, increased state-mandated funding for private school vouchers through the Ohio EdChoice program and a looming budget deficit prompted the school board’s exploration of the $2.5 million budget reduction package.