It's a new year, but the message from Tiffin City Schools' top administrator is the same.
Superintendent Donald Coletta says the district cannot cut its way out of the district's budget problem. It must have new revenue, in addition to cuts, to balance the budget, he said.
Tiffin City Board of Education had its organizational meeting and budget hearing at the administration building Monday evening. The board addressed items such as board assignments and election of officers, and Treasurer Sharon Perry presented the board with the district's alternative tax budget information.
Tiffin City Schools voters are to see two levies on the ballot during 2012. The district is seeking approval of a 4.9-mill continuing levy on the March 6 ballot and, at some point in 2012, is to seek renewal of a five-year, 1-mill permanent improvement levy that first was passed in 1982 and has been reapproved since that time.
The district's goal is to generate enough revenue from the 4.9-mill levy to keep the district in the black through the end of the five-year forecast, which goes through the 2016 fiscal year.
Coletta said he doesn't see the benefit of asking people to approve a new levy that doesn't take the district through the end of the five-year forecast.
"It just requires the district to go back on the ballot sooner," he said. "In a sense, it's like kicking the can down the road for somebody else to deal with, and it's our responsibility to deal with it now."
After the 4.9-mill levy failed in November, the board discussed seeking approval of a 4.9-mill levy, 5.9-mill levy or 6.9-mill levy on the March 6 ballot.
Coletta said board members felt a 6.9-mill levy request was too much because it exceeded a $200-per-year cost to the owner of a $100,000 home. They had a serious discussion and debate about putting a 5.9-mill levy on the ballot, he said.
The question, the superintendent said, becomes whether a district asks for what it really needs, which is a 6.9-mill levy, or asks for what people will support, which the board felt would be a 4.9-mill levy. Asking for less than what a district needs puts a school board back on the ballot sooner and likely asking for a larger amount, he said.
"This is just the difficulty of school finance in Ohio," he said.
Because the levy failed in November, the district isn't getting a year's worth of collection, or $1.7 million.
It is making plans to cut the $1.7 million over the course of three fiscal years, 2013, 2014 and 2015, by cutting about $560,000 per year.
The board already has approved reducing transportation to save $120,000, implementing pay-to-participate fees to bring in $50,000 to $60,000 and changing occupational therapy providers to save $80,000. More cuts likely will be announced in February, Coletta said.
Prior to November's election, the board already had approved making $1.25 million in cuts for the 2011-12 school year and another $1.1 million in cuts for the 2012-13 school year.
Coletta said the $1.25 million in cuts affected 30 jobs, and the $1.1 million will affect about 16 jobs, including two principals, two custodians, two secretaries and about 10 teachers. He said he plans to announce the personnel cuts in February.
About nine additional jobs are to be affected because Education Jobs Fund money that saved jobs for one year is to be gone.
Coletta said the district has cut $3.1 million from the budget and its work force by about 70 people since 2007. He said he feels the district has done everything it can do, with the staff taking a true wage freeze for two years.
"Our options are very limited in gaining additional revenue. ... We don't have very many options," he said.
During the meeting, the board:
* Saw Roland Zimmerman, new board member, take the oath of office.
* Elected Kathy Venema as the president and Shirley Smith as the vice president.
* Heard committee assignments: Zimmerman and Dawn Iannantuono, business advisory council; Mike Klepper and Smith, finance; Smith and Venema, marketing, personnel and records; Venema and Klepper, program; Iannantuono and Zimmerman, support services; Venema, legislative liaison; and Iannantuono, Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers.
* Heard building assignments: Venema, Clinton and Washington elementary schools; Smith, Krout and Lincoln elementary schools; Zimmerman, Noble Elementary School; Iannantuono, Tiffin Middle School; and Klepper, Columbian High School.
* Discussed touring the district's buildings.
* Set meetings as 7 p.m. Jan. 24, Feb. 28, March 27, April 24, May 22, June 26, July 24, Aug. 28, Sept. 25, Oct. 23, Nov. 27 and Dec. 18 at Tiffin Middle School's cafetorium.
* Appointed Zimmerman as the delegate and Venema as the alternate delegate to Ohio School Boards Association's fall conference.
* Approved the superintendent as the equal opportunity compliance officer and the agent for federal, state and privately funded projects.
* Approved standing authorizations.
* Heard Iannantuono remind board members of today's chili cook-off and Community in Jeopardy. Chili is to be served starting at 5 p.m. at Tiffin Middle School, with the game following at 7 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for Key Club.
The board is to meet in special session for the purpose of an executive session to discuss the employment of personnel at 8 a.m. Thursday at 166 Greenfield St. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Jan. 24 in Tiffin Middle School's cafetorium.