Morenci school budget shows deficit 6.25

Written by David Green.

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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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