POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Fifteen months ago, Ohio’s auditor recommended that the Poland Local School District lay off staff and close buildings to erase a projected $4.8 million deficit by 2022. Now, the school district no longer has any deficits and has still found ways to increase spending for students.
Poland Schools Superintendent Dave Janofa says the next four graduating classes will be between 139 and 171 students, and next year’s kindergarten class is currently at 96.
“Our enrollment’s dropped that much, and we knew that,” Janofa said.
But even with declining enrollment, the school system has righted itself financially.
Between 2015 and 2018, the district decreased expenditures by $1.6 million while support for pupils was up $421,000 and staff support was up $224,000.
Also, for the first time since 2007, the school system is showing no deficit spending forecasted out the next five years.
“So we’re increasing areas of service for students, decreasing administrative costs, decreasing building costs, while also giving raises in the midst of reducing enrollment. That’s a pretty good story,” Janofa said.
Since February 2018, when the auditor’s report was issued, the school system has decreased its staff by about 20 employees. Only one of those employees was laid off — a teacher at the end of this school year. The rest were cut when employees left and weren’t replaced.
Janofa said enrollment was the main reason, but also the closure of Dobbins Elementary, which helped cut building expenses.
“Hence the announcement, moving forward, projecting two years from now, that we’re going to move the 7th and 8th graders up here at the high school,” he said.
At the start of 2021-2022 school year, 7th and 8th graders will move to the high school, the middle school campus will become kindergarten through 6th grade and the Poland Union Elementary building will close and possibly be sold to developers for use as condominiums.
“So we’d be down from six — six years ago — six buildings to three. So we think it’s going to, again, continue to make these financial problems look better,” Janofa said.
Janofa also stressed how the school district has bettered itself academically. More courses are being offered to 8th graders for high school credit, there are additional computer classes at the high school and this year’s graduating class accumulated over 2,000 college credits while attending high school.