Board approves financial forecast

By Cecilia Fox -

TIPP CITY — On Monday night, the Tipp City school board approved the district’s five year forecast and discussed a project at the high school.

Treasurer Dave Stevens presented the board with the five year forecast, saying, “Overall, we do have good financial health.”

According to Stevens, tax valuations have gone up in the city, although this had the effect of lowering the effective millage rates for residential and agricultural. This did have an effect on the calculations of taxes the district can expect to receive, causing them to go down “just a little bit,” he said.

The salary projections for the forecast use current numbers because new contracts have not yet been negotiated, Stevens said. He added that he took a conservative approach to healthcare and benefits in the future, as healthcare is a topic of debate nationally.

The seven-year levy recently approved by voters “runs through the life of this five year forecast,” Stevens said.

“It’s great to have that revenue and the support of the district on that,” he said. One levy will expire during this forecast, in December 2020, an emergency levy approved in 2015.

The board also heard an update on the tiny house project from instructor Jim Kitchen. According to Kitchen, interest in the project has grown and the number of classes working on the house has doubled this school year.

As work progresses on the home started last school year, the students are now beginning work on a second tiny house. Kitchen said the plan is to sell the first house and donate the second to someone in the community.

“There’s definitely an interest in this area,” Kitchen said. He added that the classes teaches design and skills like electrical work, roofing and more. He hopes that it encourages students to consider learning a trade and that it teaches skills students can use one day when they own a home.

Board president Sam Spano announced that the district had joined the Ohio Online Checkbook initiative and that the last eight years of the district’s financial information is now online. The district is one of a handful of entities in Miami County using the site, including Bethel Township, Bradford Public Library, and Pleasant Hill. Spano noted that only about a quarter of all school districts in Ohio use the program.

Spano said that the district had made these records available online to avoid being labeled as not transparent, though he pointed out that all of the information was always available by public records request.

“We’re not hiding anything. So why implement this program? Transparency is the word I keep hearing. Is that another word for trust?” Spano said. “I trust our administration. I trust our staff.”

Board member Theresa Dunaway, who noted that she was in favor of using the online checkbook, questioned why the decision was made now and who made it. Spano pointed out that the decision did not require board action and participation in the program was up to the treasurer.

By Cecilia Fox