Cincinnati Public Schools bracing for $8.7 million in state cuts

Posted at 9:40 PM, May 06, 2020

CINCINNATI — The local financial fallout of COVID-19 grows as Cincinnati Public Schools will lose $8.7 million over the next few months, part of $300 million in cuts statewide for K-12 schools.

CPS officials are still contemplating what local cuts will look like as far as programming and personnel. Jennifer Wagner, the system’s chief financial officer, hopes to have a more concrete plan in the coming weeks.

“It was rumored, but totally unexpected, formally,” she said.

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Wagner says two days ago, state officials told her budget cuts were not likely for K-12 schools, but now CPS must figure out how to cover an $8.7 million loss.

“It just depends on how much we can control our spending and what revenues we can collect,” Wagner said.

CPS will have to use $18 million in CARES Act funding to help cover these cuts -- but this is not a long term solution, Wagner says, if budget cuts continue in the next fiscal year.

“A 4% reduction in our budget is like a $40 million cut. Which would be very very painful for us … $18 million isn’t going to cover $40 million in reductions,” she said.

The new cuts are far from the district’s only problem coming down the pike.

“Next year is the second year of frozen revenue, so despite our enrollment increasing, we’re not getting more money for new kids,” Wagner says.

CPS Board Member Melanie Bates says right now , the district’s only hope is to push for more federal aid.

“The state just doesn’t have the money,” Bates said. “So the reliance on the federal government is real for our school districts, especially our urban school districts.”

Wagner says she will speak with the Ohio Department of Education Thursday morning to get more information on the impact of next year’s budget, and whether charter schools will be affected by the current cuts as well.