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 a 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 homeowners see their utility bills grow. 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 students attending private and charter schools, with no state money to cover this cost.
With rising costs, CPS often must make difficult decisions to cut budget items to stay balanced — always with the goal of not impacting the quality of education. CPS starts its budget process earlier in the school year to allow ample planning time, and provides software tools for employees to develop budgets and track spending in real time.
CPS Financially Sound
In March 2018, 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 maintained its 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.
Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting
Cincinnati Public Schools' Treasurer's Office qualified for the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for our 2017 fiscal year-end Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). This is the highest recognition for government accounting and reporting. CPS also was recognized for excellence in 2016.
CPS welcomes donations from the community to supplement its General Fund budget.
How to donate money and school supplies and sampling of recent donations.
2018-19 General Fund Budget
In June 2018, the CPS Board approved a $609.5-million General Fund Budget for the 2018-19 school year.
General Fund Budget Process
The district's fiscal year runs July 1 - June 30. The financial process begins in late fall 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.
Voters Approve CPS Levy November 2016
Cincinnati's community voted overwhelmingly on November 8, 2016, in support of CPS’ 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 generates money for CPS' 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 preschool expansion 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 is using 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 reduced costs to stretch revenues over the years, but, by 2016, with growing enrollment, the district faced educationally harmful multimillion-dollar deficits that would rise to $60 million annually without new money.
Understanding School Finance
Five-Year Forecast - May 21, 2018 (fiscal years ended June 30, 2015, 2016 and 2017; actual forecasted fiscal years ending June 30, 2018, through 2022)
Five-Year Forecast - October 18, 2017 (fiscal years ended June 30, 2015, 2016 and 2017; actual forecasted fiscal years ending June 30, 2018, through 2022)
Five-Year Forecast - May 22, 2017 (fiscal years ended June 30, 2014, 2015 and 2016; actual forecasted fiscal years ending June 30, 2017, through 2021)
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