Parma School District now forecasts $8.2M surplus: 'It looks like we lied' before levy

Updated: May. 25, 2018 at 4:32 PM EDT
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PARMA, OH (WOIO) - The public image of the Parma City School District just took a hit.

"I can't believe half of it. I mean they pull this crap every year with the school levy," Charles Alexander said, who is a Parma voter.

Before the levy vote three weeks ago, the school district said it would see a $13 million deficit over the next two years.

The levy failed anyway.

Then, during Thursday night's school board meeting the treasurer announced a new financial forecast and said it actually looks like Parma has a $8.2 million surplus for the fiscal year 2019.

"I'm sure everybody is just like, 'What the hell happened?" Superintendent Carl Hilling said. "And ahhhh ...  can't really tell ya."

Hilling said he knows this looks bad.

He said there was no intent to deceive voters.

The treasurer, who reports to the school board and not Hilling, simply found that because of cuts over the past three years they are in better shape than they previously thought.

"It's one of those things that's good news/bad news. Good news that we have money. The bad news is it looks like we lied. I mean lets just face it," Hilling said.

The next problem for Parma Schools is at some point the district is going to have to come back to these same voters and ask for more money.

That will happen next may when voters will have to decide to renew a current tax, which won't be new money, just a continuance of a tax increase already being collected.

Even the superintendent knows that's going to be a hard sell to voters.

"What happens the next time?" Cleveland reporter Dan DeRoos asked Hilling.

"Well I tell you what, somebody better double check the numbers," Hilling said.

Here's another number: 57.

That's the number of teachers and staff who were laid off earlier this month for the next school year.

We previously reported the Ohio Department of Education said there should be one teacher for every 25 students from kindergarten through fourth grade.

The head of the teacher's union said some kindergarten classes already have more than 30 students.

Hilling said there will now be new meetings next week to see if some or all of those positions can be kept.

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