Sharon City School District board passed a 2019-20 budget that calls for spending $38 million with a 2.78-mill tax hike and using $3.2 million from its fund balance.

“We have a pretty significant deficit,” Superintendent Michael Calla said. “Our goal will be to hold the line on spending during the year so that we do not have to use that amount from the fund balance.”

The school board approved a 2019-20 budget of $38,254,500 this week by the school board at a vote of 7 to 1, with Brian Faber casting the dissenting vote. The millage was increased to the index from 77.23 mills to 80.01.

At 80.01 mills, a property with an assessed value of $10,000 will have a tax bill of about $800.

Calla said a significant portion of its budget goes to pay cyber or charter school tuition outside the district for students who live in Sharon. 

“The largest chunk for us is we pay over $3 million dollars in cyber and charter school tuition,” Calla said. “I don’t think most people realize the taxpayer is paying for cyber or charter school. It is free for the family but the school district the child comes from is paying full freight for that child.”

Special education costs consume a significant portion of the budget, Calla said.

“This past year, we enrolled over 100 students who came to us as already identified special education students, so our budget has to absorb that,” Calla said. “One of the features of the budget is to add one to two more staff members to accommodate students with special needs.”

Calla said that changes in the school’s cafeteria system did not contribute to Sharon’s deficit.

“One of the reasons we looked to outsource the cafeteria is because it was losing $100,000 per year,” Calla said. “We will not know officially until the local audit is complete but the cafeteria went from a $100,000 loss to about a $20,000 loss. We still have a little bit of red ink there but significantly less.”

The superintendent said the cafeteria contractor decreased the losses by increasing the number of children in the cafeteria program.

“Once they got used to the change, there was a pretty significant raise of students,” Calla said. “And we had a stability in the food service area. Now, we’ve had the same individuals in the cafeterias for the full school year, which I think helped as well.”

Calla said the district is trying to break even in the food service department.

Calla said the district appreciates the support of the local tax base.

“If you look at the numbers, there’s some areas where we’ve been able to reduce costs,” Calla said. “We try to hold the line as much as possible while still maintaining a quality education.”

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