“I’ve modeled no (operating) levies in this forecast,” said Bertram, but he added whether the current, relatively favorable state funding, which comprises 49% of the city schools’ annual operating revenue, remains in the next biennium budget is impossible to predict.
Moreover, he said, “if inflation stays high it will have a drastic impact on school funding. And we are at the mercy of any changes they (Ohio lawmakers) make.”
Board of Education President Chris Urso echoed Bertram, saying: “We are asked to forecast five years out, but we only know two years out.”
Helping the district avoid a projected budget deficit for a half decade is the continued federal financial pandemic aid to help offset Middletown — and all Ohio districts and those nationwide — as it weathers the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Grant Program, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act helped earlier this year to stave off possible school budget cuts in Middletown personnel and programs that would have totaled $2.5 million.
Middletown’s current operating budget is $68.3 million annually to operate 10 schools.
Bertram said Middletown Schools average per pupil expenditure of $13,800 is well below the state average of $16,000.
Urso said to Bertram “one of our core responsibilities is being good stewards of taxpayers’ monies and we can’t do it without the good information you provide us.”