Accelify Blog

School Funding Outlook Brightens (MI)

June 8, 2010

Anticipating a state funding cut of $433 per student, members of the Escanaba School Board learned the picture may not be as bleak as once projected.

Superintendent Michele Burley updated the board Thursday during a special meeting, indicating there have been changes since the last meeting of the school board.

"We are working with some new budget assumptions, the key word is assumptions," said Burley, as she started a power point presentation.

She updated the board on the state school aid fund.

"They (the state) found out that there is more money in the fund than what was expected, which left everybody really excited," said Burley.

While the state school aid fund discovered more money than expected, the state’s general fund was very short, which is of concern to school districts.

"While we were excited to learn about the state school aid fund, we need to be cautious," explained Burley. "The state in the past has decided since the general fund is short, the state school aid fund since it has money, doesn’t need the typical donation from the general fund because they have enough money. Therefore we are going to withhold that general fund donation."

For the previous board meeting, the budget assumption Burley and business manager Scott McFarland worked with was a worst case scenario of a $433 per pupil funding cut.

The budget assumption present ed Thursday dealt with a per pupil funding cut of $165.

Some districts are continuing to work out their budgets using a $433 per pupil cut formula, while others are working with a cut of $233 and others are optimistic with their budgets using a $165 per pupil funding cut formula.

"Another thing we based our assumptions on is student enrollment, which is variable," said Burley. "What we have been doing is reviewing data, which indicates we lose about 40 students per year."

Other areas looked at by the district in presenting its budget assumptions is the number of employees who may be gaining a step on the salary schedule and what raises have been promised as part of contract negotiations.

"We know that because of the retirement legislation the state employee pension fund is under funded. We have been told to expect our retirement rates for our employees to go up 2.47 percent," said Burley.

On a more positive note, Burley noted the district did realize some savings this past winter in heating, snow removal and utilities.

Other areas where savings were realized by the district included seeing the sale of the former Ford River Elementary School.

The institution of Professional Education Services Group (PESG) which now employs the district’s substitute teacher’s.

The shared business arrangement between the Escanaba and Gladstone School District for McFarland’s business expertise.

Reimbursements are also anticipated as part of a purchase card program the district is utilizing. (Cash back on purchases.)
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Revenue anticipated from the potential sale of the former Wells and Franklin Elementary School buildings.

Recall of unemployed staff, saving unemployment costs.

"We are still gathering information, and looking at where cuts can be made and to evaluate the impact of those cuts on students," said Burley.

The budget process will continue, with another special meeting of the school board scheduled for June 14.

It is anticipated that a proposed budget will be presented to board members for the June 21 meeting for review and action.

A new budget for the 2010-11 school year must be adopted and in place by July 1 under state law.