Morenci school budget shows deficit 6.25

Written by David Green.


Planning for the worst; hoping for something better.

That’s what school budget making is all about during tough financial times.

It’s always a challenge, notes Morenci schools financial director Erica Metcalf. A spending plan must be approved before the start of the next fiscal year even though two key revenue factors—student enrollment and state aid—are unknown.

The procees often leads to a disheartening outcome, Metcalf told board of education members Thursday.

“You can spend countless hours and by the time you’re done, it’s obsolete,” she said.

Metcalf didn’t have much in the way of good news for the board to consider. Declining enrollment estimates point toward a drop in revenue that could approach $150,000. That’s the same number she projects for a possible deficit in the next school year.

Metcalf presents a worst-case scenario and hopes the situation doesn’t sink that low.

A year ago she anticipated the deficit could reach $150,000. Instead, losses ended at $92,500. If the district does end the year $150,000 in the red, the fund balance will shrink to just over $500,000.

“Enrollment is a cause for concern,” she said.

As the school year ended, kindergarten enrollment stood at an unusually low 40 students, down from 61 in the year that just ended. Combined with a developmental kindergarten enrollment of 19, enrollment could drop by 12 just from the first-year students.

Add that to the returning students and the district could see a drop of at least 20 students. The actual figure won’t be known until the state’s official count day on the fourth Wednesday of September.

Metcalf doesn’t see much encouragement in the near future, either, with a large senior class of 78 and an in-coming freshman class in the mid-60s.

The enrollment situation will have to be monitored in the next school year, she said, when the final kindergarten number is known and the gains and losses through School of Choice are compiled.

Board members voted later to authorize a $950,000 loan through the Michigan Municipal Loan Authority to cover a shortfall in cash until state aid payments arrive.

MEMBER—Former board member James Place was sworn into office after offering to fill an empty seat on the board following the resignation of Merton Easler.

Place will serve until the school election in May 2009.

MERIT—Seven teachers were chosen by building principals to receive $350 credit for teaching supplies and equipment through the merit pay program.

Pat Burnard and Holly Bella were both cited for their work with the elementary school literacy program.

At the middle school, three science teachers—Dan Hoffman, Jim Bauer and Deb Williams—will share two awards.

At the high school, Math and Science Club advisor Kerry Nieman and Green Earth Club advisor Heather Whitehouse were selected.

JULY—The regular July meeting is scheduled July 7. The annual organizational meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the regular meeting.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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