Salaries and inflation are major factors driving the budget of the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District, Treasurer and CFO Ashley Brudno said last week.
Mrs. Brudno explained during the Oct. 16 board meeting that a large part of what has kept expenditures rising is staff raises and inflation on the cost of supplies and materials.
The district has used 54.62 percent of its total expenditures toward paying salaries and 20.21 percent toward employee benefits during the 2019 fiscal year. “What we do is we educate our kids and we do that with our teachers,” she added.
She said that it’s normal for spending to rise from one year to the next, but it’s important for the district to keep track of how much, and if there was a reason behind particularly large increases.
Mrs. Brudno said that through her financial report, she wanted to work with the board on understanding what the district measures financially from year to year and how it is measured.
“Obviously, when we made financial decisions and decisions on these data points, we’re using these data points. We don’t just look at the dollars, we look at how these things affect our educational process and how it’s affected our kids,” she said of the importance of understanding the investments behind the dollar amounts.
When it came to the trend data for the district’s spending over the past six years, the total expenditure amount has increased on a 4-percent average rate from year to year. Over the five-year report, the district has seen just over a 21-percent total expenditure increase.
As for the cost per pupil, according to Mrs. Brudno, the district is spending more per pupil than several other local school districts. “We have to look at what we’re getting out of that cost,” she said. “What is our return on our investment?”
She said that though the district is above average on spending, both on expenditures and cost per pupil, they are also in the top three schools in the state based on the performance index on the most recent report card released by the Ohio Department of Education on Sept. 12. Mrs. Brudno also said the trend of cost per pupil has been a continual increase, though she recognized that Beachwood City School District has managed to keep its cost per pupil steady over the past five years. She added that it may be worthwhile to talk with Beachwood officials about how they’ve done this.
According to Mrs. Brudno’s report, the spending ratio at the district followed similar patterns to the total expenditure percentages. She said that 53.82 percent of all spending goes toward instructional resources.
Based on Mrs. Brudno’s report, board member Kathryn Garvey requested that the board be able to see how many local tax dollars go toward each child, both in order to make decisions and to be able to share with community members. Mrs. Garvey added that the reason the board wants a treasurer’s report is to evaluate district spending and make sure the board is aware of any unusual changes.