Brookfield in fiscal emergency

BROOKFIELD – The Brookfield Local School District is in a state of fiscal emergency, according to a report released Tuesday by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

The state first placed the district in fiscal caution in 2005, followed by fiscal watch in 2006. Fiscal emergency means an oversight committee will be set up to fix school finances.

With a deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30 forecast in excess of $1 million, the financial forecast released by the state auditor shows a decrease of $158,000 in projected expenditures for fiscal year 2013 as compared with 2012.

A resolution passed by the board of education in February stated its inability to adopt a recovery plan that eliminates the current-year deficit.

“We’re sad that we had to take this step. A committee will come in and tell us where we proceed from here,” said Brookfield board member Gwen Martino. “Even if the levy passes, we will still be over $400,000 in debt this year, so we had to go ahead and do this.”

It is uncertain whether the attempt by the district to pass a 4.85-mill continuing additional operating levy was successful. Unofficial results from last week’s primary election show the levy is ahead by three votes; however, with seven provisional and some absentee ballots left to be counted, the balance could swing when the count is certified official.

The Trumbull County Board of Elections meets Friday to review provisional and absentee ballots, and meets again on May 28 to certify results.

The forecast report shows the numerous levy failures from 2003, with the exception of a bond issue for $14,800 that passed in 2007.

“Between the state cuts and the huge amount of money going to charter schools, we are having financial difficulties. The current administration feels that the local people should pay for the schools and the local people just don’t have what they did before. But we can’t let our school system fall into a sorry state,” Martino said. “We have to do the best we can by the children.”

The Liberty School District has been meeting with a financial planning commission since last July, when the state placed it in fiscal emergency.

“It certainly is a challenging process and it’s a very difficult, hard process,” Liberty Superintendent Stan Watson said. ”One of the things that happens is people’s livelihoods are affected by it.

“It’s something that has to be done in order to right-size the district for the amount of revenue that’s generated in the community. When you get to the right size, usually what follows is that you become fiscally solvent at that point,” Watson said.

“It’s all the spirit of working together with all of the stakeholders. That’s helped us to make some of the big strides that we’ve made,” he said.

Attempts to reach Brookfield Superintendent Tim Saxton were unsuccessful.