Windham heading out of fiscal caution

Back in the black for the first time since 2002

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

For the first time in more than a decade, the Windham Exempted Village School District is heading out of fiscal caution.

Superintendent Gregg Isler said Roger Hardin of the Ohio Department of Education's office of school options and finance, will be attending the Windham Board of Education meeting on Thursday to formally release the district. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Katherine Thomas Elementary School.

Isler said this is the first time the district's financial forecast has predicted the district being in the black since December 2002, when the district first went into fiscal caution. Since then, he said, the board has been taking steps to improve the district's financial picture.

"I think we've been financially responsible and we're finally beginning to see the dividends of that," he said.

The status, the least restrictive form of state oversight, is the first category alerting school districts to financial distress.

"It means the Ohio Department of Education is monitoring our financial picture," Isler said. "They offer consultation and review us periodically to make recommendations."

Isler said a school building project was a contributing factor to the district's woes.

In 2000, the district upgraded its facilities in a $28 million project. The Ohio Schools Facilities Project picked up $27 million of that cost. But just four years later, the newly renovated East Elementary was found unnecessary and closed by the district. It was rented for two years to the Portage County Educational Service Center, but stood vacant from 2007 to 2009, when the building was purchased by an area church at auction. The Renaissance Family Center is now operated by a nonprofit group.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

Isler said the state has now revamped its facilities program and ensures that the buildings it constructs are sustainable.

In addition, rising expenses and declining enrollment have contributed to the financial woes. The district, which once had an enrollment of more than 1,000, has maintained an enrollment of about 700 for the last few years, Isler said.

Two years ago, the district cut about $1 million from its budget by altering schedules and revising busing.

Several staff members were put on a "reduction in force" list, though only two names remain on that list. The rest have either retired or returned to the district in some capacity, he said.

Unions representing teachers and staff have accepted small stipends, but agreed to freeze base salaries.

He said while the news is "truly a joint effort" and something to be excited about, it doesn't mean the district is guaranteed financial security in the future.

"It still requires hard work to maintain," he said. "The burden of remaining fiscally responsible is out there every minute."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.

  • To those of you that keep saying Windham is closing & combing w/G'ville or Labrae....I think not.

  • To those of you that keep saying Windham is closing & combing w/G'ville or Labrae....I think not.

  • The financial health of each school district is critical to neighboring school districts as well as the local communities (villages, cities, townships) that make up the district. January 14, Waterloo School District meeting forum - here's the video: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/28485620 Roger Hardin was at the forum meeting discussing fiscal monitoring.