Superintendent explains steps to eliminate deficit
By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
OXFORD TWP. – Oxford schools Superintendent Dr. Vickie Markavitch and director of budgets Courtney Makowski gave the board of education an update on the projected five-year budget deficit. during the regular meeting on Jan. 23,
Currently, the district is forecasting a cumulative deficit of $5,138,700 over the next five years.
“Fortunately for us, with the five-year projection last year, we began to see the direction that we were moving,” said Markavitch. “One of the biggest impacts on your finances here is the same that every other district is experiencing, and that is that one-time money is sunsetting. So districts across the nation got that one-time COVID money and that is now sunsetting. For us, that was in the millions.”
In addition to the ESSER funds ending, the Oxford school district also received one-time funds from federal and state sources in response to the Oxford High School shooting, which will also end shortly.
“That one-time money was also used for resources, many of the personnel related, in the area of safety, security, mental health, social and emotional learning,” Markavitch said. “This is our last year as well for that money. And we hope to get some of it renewed for another year as well, but it will be a small portion of the total that the district received.”
Because of these funds ending soon, the district has a projected deficit through fiscal year 2028.
“The earlier you can start on eliminating a deficit, the better,” said Markavitch. “Last year we were able to reduce eight positions. In 2024, for this budget, we removed a director of maintenance and facilities, we reduced a technology consultant, a technology and computer specialist too, a third grade section at Oxford Elementary School, a Chinese teacher at middle school and Oxford Virtual Academy, a resource room teacher at OVA, a social studies teacher at OVA, and a proposed social studies coach, which we ended up not putting in place. That was over a million dollar savings, which carries through for those other five years. I want to point out that to get savings in one fiscal year, you pretty much have to take your actions in the fiscal year prior.”
For the fiscal year 2024, there is a projected deficit of $324,907. For 2025, there is a projected deficit of $560,662. For fiscal year 2026, there is a projected deficit of $2,462,742. For fiscal year 2027, there is a projected deficit of $1,484,573. For fiscal year 2028, the projected deficit is $305,817.
“This year, ‘23-‘24, the actions that I am recommending are we keep those reductions in place and we add to it a reduction in our facilities plan,” said Markavitch. “If you recall our first five year projection called for our facilities plan to attribute $1.3 million into facilities rejuvenation, repair, renovation, enhancements, and also things that were coming to end of life, as well as the normal day to day facilities maintenance that we see. We have now reduced that to $500,000 a year, which also brings then the budget reduction to $800,000 a year, carried over for the next year.”
Additionally, they proposed reducing three part-time guest administrators at the high school. The district will also eliminate a business and finance specialist position through a retirement, and a few other administrative positions through lay-offs.
“This is trying to keep our resources at the classroom level, at the building level,” she said. “These two positions will be the fourth major position in terms of reducing administrative staff.”
The total proposed cuts for the next fiscal year are $2.5 million.
“In fiscal year 2026, we are adding two additional cuts to our contracted services,” said Markavitch. “This is a purchase service, it will not require any lay-offs, it will only require a reduction in the purchase service contract, and that is two security positions at the secondary level, and in 2027 we are going to be replacing one of our district positions with a contracted position, which will also allow us to see some reductions. We are hoping for another $2.9 million reduction in the next three years.”
Though there have been cuts to personnel, the district has had to hire other staff back as numbers are growing in the special education department, which requires more special education services in personnel.
“At some point in time, the board may or may not want to consider some kind of sinking fund, because at this point there’s $500,000 a year built in for our facilities. You of course have some money in your fund equity to back you up if there was ever any serious emergency you have to cover,” said Markavitch. “But eventually you have to get a source of funding back for facilities, which was lost when the sinking fund also sunsetted in 2022. When that sunsetted you also lost about a million a year in funds that came into you for facilities attention.”
Markavitch and Makowski will bring back an update in May or June on the current year budget.
“The budget is still not balanced, we’re looking at about a $325,000 deficit for fiscal year 2024,” said Makowski. “We continue to make changes and look at savings to reduce that deficit. If we do end up out of balance, we will take that difference out of the general fund.”
The full five-year reduction plan is available at oxfordschools.org.