A projection, according to "Webster's Dictionary", is "an estimate of future possibilities based on a current trend."
But staffing-savings projections in the Warren County School District, as a result of a five-year plan proposed by Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel, appear to be more concrete than an estimate.
Projections show savings in the realm of $2.4 million to $2.6 million annually.
That's assuming the school district's board of directors sticks to the plan.
To get to the projected total savings, the district is taking steps now that head down that path.
For the next school year year one of the plan the district will save approxiamtely $400,00 by shifting the boundary between Sugar Grove and Russell elementary schools to the west.
Year two will see the same $400,000 in savings as construction, likely starting this fall, continues at Eisenhower and Sheffield in an attempt to convert those facilities to K-12 schools.
Year three, the 2014-2015 school year, will bring the end of construction at Sheffield and Eisenhower.
For that school year, the district is also projecting that it will be able to close South Street Early Learning Center and move those students into Warren Area Elementary Center. That switch is expected to save an additional $772,500, bringing total plan savings to $1,172,500.
Year four is slated to be the debut of the K-12 facilities at Sheffield and Eisenhower. As part of that switch, Sheffield, Allegheny Valley, Russell and Sugar Grove elementary schools will all be closed, saving $1,309,400 annually, $2,481,900 in total.
An additional $70,000 in savings will be realized in year six after the central office is moved to Russell Elementary School in year five, 2016-2017, bringing total plan savings to $2,551,900 annually.
"If we take these steps and the board is committed to following the staffing plan that we put out, those will be the staffing savings," Hufnagel said in reference to the $2,551,900. "But if they vary from that, that will change the savings."
The savings sound nice, but where do they come from?
Hufnagel said, "Most of the savings in the plan is built off the philosophy that when we start combining the schools, and becoming more efficient, we need less staff and so we have to reduce the staff through the plan."
And the staffing reduction likely won't be brought about by furloughs or suspensions.
"Attrition (retirements, etc.) should take care of it," Hufnagel said. "We know what positions have to be reduced. So, for example, if I lose six elementary teachers next year, I'll try to staff without those six elementary teachers so I don't have to cut anybody."
The goal is to keep class sizes constant, around 22 in kindergarten through second grade and 25 in grades three through five.
"Everything is built on trying to meet those numbers," Hufnagel noted, explaining that the cuts made earlier this year for next school year will still keep class sizes within that range.
"We just have to say we're not going to replace that position," he said. "If they (the board members) don't stick to that part of it, now you're only looking at the savings in the closing of the building side of it, which is enough to cover the bond, but is not enough to see the other side of it."
According to estimates in a presentation prepared by school district administration for the closure hearing held on the five elementary schools, additional savings might be found through decreased maintenance costs.
The documentation explains that the total square footage that the district is responsible for maintaining will decrease by 132,909. Indicating that maintenance costs were square foot are realitively constant, approximately $5.16 per square foot, the district could save up to $685,810.44 annually, assuming maintenance costs stay flat.
As the district realizes those savings, Hufnagel is hopeful that the district's fund balance can be restored to a healthy level.
The fund balance stood at over $7.5 million in 2009, but as the district has sought to balance budgets in subsequent years, is now projected to be between $900,000 and $1.2 million in 2013.
"That is a scary number," Hufnagel said. "There are times where we're waiting for revenue...we have to take out a TRAN (Tax Revenue Anticipation Notice) just to make payroll."
As the savings are realized, the district "should be able to put money back into the fund balance and build it to where it is healthy," Hufnagel said. "If we want a chance of doing that in the future, we have to take action now" and go forward with the K-12 projects. "We will never see the money unless we choose to spend the money."