The Niles City School District is “on track” to be released from state-declared fiscal emergency by next summer, school Treasurer Rhonda Amorganos told 21 News Wednesday. The treasurer’s comments followed a special meeting in which the fiscal commission overseeing district finances accepted Amorganos’ five-year financial forecast for Fiscal Year 2021—a forecast critical for eventual release.

Niles Schools have been in fiscal emergency since February 2019. Since that time, the district’s finances and recovery are reviewed by state-auditors and the five-member Financial Planning and Supervision Commission.

Our forecast is healthy enough to be released (and) we have a goal to be released in summer time of 2021,” Amorganos said. In the treasurer’s presentation to the commission, Amorganos said deficit spending is projected in the fourth and fifth years of the forecast, which under state law is permitted, but the figures only reflect an expiring levy that will be submitted for renewal. Without the levy, those are projected at $966,000 in 2024 and $2.1 million in 2025, but the red ink is significantly reduced for both years if voters approve the renewal.

One particular factor certain to impact the district, according to the treasurer, is Governor Mike DeWine’s biennium budget that is still pending. The budget will show how much Niles and every Ohio school district is likely to receive from the state. “We just don’t have those numbers yet,” Amorganos said.

The treasurer and Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen told the commission that 20 teachers and non-teaching employees took advantage of early retirement, which has helped reduce expenses. Another rather surprising figure is that the number of students—18—who left the district for other area schools were replaced by an equal number who enrolled in Niles from other districts. Yet despite the same figure, the district lost $210,000 in revenue because each district funds students differently. Amorganos said despite that figure, the outlook is still positive for the district.

Even though its significant, it doesn’t change our ending balance and doesn’t cause us to deficit spend,” the treasurer said adding that she expects the numbers to be updated.

The commission has scheduled its next meeting December 7.