CPS Aims For Fiscal Balance
Ohio law requires school districts to operate within a balanced budget, meaning expenditures cannot exceed cash balances. The difficulty arises because about 90 percent of the district's revenue comes from two sources: State per-student allocations and voter-approved tax levies tied to property taxes — and neither of these sources grows with inflation.
But, the district's expenses do go up with inflation. For example, the district's gas and electric bills increase in pace with rising cost of natural resources, just as homowners see their utility bills grow. Also, additional costs are generated by state and federal mandates that do not come with funding; for example, Ohio law requires school districts to provide the same level of transportation service to all students living in the district, including for students attending private and charter schools, with no state money to cover this cost.
With rising costs, CPS often makes difficult budget cuts to stay balanced - always with the goal of not impacting the quality of education. CPS began rightsizing its budget in 2004. About 1,350 employee positions have been eliminated - a big cut for one of Cincinnati's top-10 largest employers. CPS starts its budget process earlier in the school year now to allow more planning time, providing new software tools for employees to develop budgets and track spending in real time, and providing real-time financial data for decision-makers.
CPS Financially Sound
In January 2017, Moody’s Investor’s Service affirmed Cincinnati Public Schools’ Aa2 general obligation ratings and Aa3 rating on the district’s certificates of participation (COPs). In addition, the district’s previous negative outlook was removed and replaced with a Stable outlook.
CPS has increased enrollment by more than 4,000 students over the last five years -- one of the key factors Moody's cited for the improved rating. In addition, Moody’s cited Cincinnati’s recovering tax base and the district’s stable cash-reserve projections as other favorable factors. CPS consistently outperforms budgeted expectations, and Moody’s attributes this to solid management, conservative budgeting practices and financial forecasting, strong community support, and the successful passage of renewal and new tax levies.
CPS welcomes donations from the community to supplement its General Fund budget. Here's how to donate money and school supplies, and a sampling of recent donations.
2016-17 General Fund Budget
In June 2016, the CPS Board approved a $542.6-million General Fund Budget for the 2016-17 school year.
Voters Approve CPS Levy November 2016
The Cincinnati community voted overwhelmingly on November 8, 2016, in support of Cincinnati Public Schools’ investment in quality, affordable preschool and strong K-12 schools, with 62 percent of voters supporting Issue 44. The tax levy, CPS’ first request for new money in eight years, passed with 87,578 votes in favor and 53,845 (38 percent) against — the widest margin of victory since 1952.
The five-year, 7.93-mill levy will generate money for the district's operating expenses, providing $48 million annually in new money for the expansion of preschool and to support community priorities for K-12 education. It will cost the owner of property valued at $100,000 an additional $5.35 a week.
The levy creates a partnership with Cincinnati Preschool Promise, designating that $15 million annually be earmarked for expansion of preschool in Cincinnati Public Schools and through community-based providers. The United Way of Greater Cincinnati will help oversee this major preschool expansion.
Cincinnati Public Schools also will use levy revenues to expand quality school options at all grades, including strengthening neighborhood schools; preparing students for college and careers, and improving workforce readiness; extending student access to technology; and other essential educational expenses. Board of Education members noted that these focus areas reflect priorities of the district’s stakeholders in responses to surveys and community feedback.
An independent financial review commissioned by Cincinnati’s business community showed that CPS has reduced costs to stretch revenues, but now, with growing enrollment, the district faces educationally harmful multimillion-dollar deficits that would rise to $60 million annually without new money.
First Board Resolution - May 23, 2016
Resolution to Proceed with Levy - August 2, 2016
News Release announcing levy - August 2, 2016
News Release - CPS Selects United Way of Greater Cincinnati to Partner on Preschool Expansion - Sept. 2, 2016
Request for Proposals (RFP) - Preschool Expansion - with United Way's response - Aug. 5, 2016
General Fund Budget Process
The district's fiscal year runs July 1 - June 30. The financial process begins in January when schools and departments begin preparing their General Fund budgets. (These do not include state programs or federally funded programs such as Title 1).
In late spring, the Superintendent presents a recommendation for a consolidated district budget to the Cincinnati Public Schools’ seven-member, publicly elected Board of Education for consideration. By the end of June, the Board authorizes funds to be spent for the upcoming school year based on an approved budget.
Understanding School Finance
Five-Year Forecast - Proposed - (fiscal years ended June 30, 2013, 2014 and 2015; actual forecasted fiscal years ending June 30, 2017 through 2021; approved, CPS Board of Education Oct. 24, 2016)
Five-Year Forecast May 2016