A NOTE FROM THE CFO
This month, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) successfully closed out the fiscal year, with preparations underway for a smooth 2015-2016 school year opening. Two and a half years ago in November 2013, Cleveland voters made a crucial commitment to support the district by passing Issue 107. This critical operating levy, the first in over 16 years, provided much-needed funds, allowing CMSD to start building financial resiliency in response to erratic changes in state and federal funding sources. Cleveland residents’ vote of confidence for Issue 107 created indispensable revenue to address these budget gaps, while providing a stable resourcing level for each school.
Last year’s financial planning and execution continued that financial resiliency and stability for schools by aligning resources to CMSD’s critical academic work, and extending academic and financial planning horizons, while operating within district means with minimal debt. Work on student based budgeting created easily understood school level budgets closely linked to the specific academic work each school team identified for the 2015-2016 year.
In the face of demanding financial times for education, rigorously monitoring and executing the 2014-2015 budget was crucial to CMSD’s financial health, stability and ultimate durability. This focus allowed the district to preserve programs that form the basis of academic offerings, and to restore other carefully selected programs eliminated during an austere state and federal budget stretch. Additionally, last November’s passage of Issue 4 continues the support of the Cleveland Plan by providing approval for the district to sell $200 million in capital bonds to finance construction or restoration of over 40 schools. Diligent long range financial planning translated to no raise in Cleveland residents’ taxes. Furthermore, two dollars ($2.00) of state construction dollars are available to match every local dollar used to construct and improve CMSD facilities – at no cost to Cleveland residents. Finally, an additional 0.5 mill will be expressly dedicated to the permanent improvement fund or capital expenses for essential upkeep and proper maintenance of district schools.
While significant challenges continue, such as an unpredictable state funding model that has changed every two years for the last six years, the finance team continues to work closely with school and district academic leaders to maximize funding to continue improving both student outcomes and student learning.
This information presents a financial picture of Cleveland schools that strive for academic excellence, supports the CMSD mission to educate every child, and advance the district towards the goals established in the Cleveland Plan.
John W. Scanlan
Chief Financial Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District