ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education will have to make some tough decisions in the near future, possibly cutting staff and expenditures.

Last Friday, the board approved resolutions aimed at eliminating the district’s financial deficits caused by dropping enrollment.

For example, student enrollment in the 2018-19 school year was 3,280 total students in pre-school through 12th grade, according to school records.

This year, student enrollment is 2,850 students enrolled in pre-school through 12th grade, according to school records.

Public school funding is tied to student numbers, and that means public primary and secondary educational districts face funding cuts, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

“The expenditure reduction plan calls for $2.3 million of personnel and non-personnel expenditure reductions,” Interim Superintendent John Rubesich said Tuesday.

Current staffing levels include 224 certified staff and 22 administrative positions, which includes the central office, he said.

Rubesich said the plan approved by the board has been submitted to the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Fiscal Oversight.

Many of the personnel-related reductions are expected to be done through attrition — the departure of employees from the district for any reason (voluntary or involuntary), including resignation, termination or retirement, Rubesich said.

The number of positions that will be impacted has not yet been determined because it will involve bidding and bumping of employees, he said.

Rubesich said he believes there are a number of reasons why enrollment is down.

“People are not having children as in the past,” he said. “Then there are people who are moving out of state for a variety of reasons.”

Vouchers also are having a negative impact on public schools.

“It doesn’t matter how you present or couch vouchers to the public, they take money (local tax dollars) and funnel local tax dollars to charter and parochial schools,” he said.

The Ashtabula Area City School District is not alone in its decreasing student numbers, he said.

“In the early 2000’s, I was the superintendent of the Howland Local Schools,” Rubesich said. “During that time we had approximately 3,400 students, today their student population is 2,300.”

Since the 2005-06 school year, overall public school enrollment in Ohio has declined by nearly 10 percent, according to the ODE, Advanced Reports (school years 2005-06 to 2021-22).

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