Morenci school board receives audit report 11.05.08

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It takes difficult economic times to celebrate a $47,000 deficit.

These are difficult times for most Michigan school districts and auditor Phil Rubley praised the Morenci school district for cutting deficit spending to $46,956 in the past fiscal year.

“That’s a very good position for you to be in,” Rubley told school board members Monday night. “You curbed your budget. You should be commended. You’re probably one of the strongest districts we’re reporting this year, even with the loss.”

In reviewing the highlights of the audit, Rubley pointed out the general fund ended the year with an excess of $173,631. Transferring $220,587 to cover athletic department expenses, the fund was left with a $46,956 deficit.

The budget initially called for an anticipated loss of $85,000, but the board later amended that figure to $150,000 due to financial concerns.

“You finished $103,000 better than anticipated,” Rubley said. “To me, that’s a win. You cut your losses in half [from the previous year], and from years before that, you cut it by $200,000.”

Rubley said the deficit reduction buys the district more time. With $47,000 taken out of the general fund balance, the district still has $758,664 in reserves. That savings would have been wiped away quickly with the $200,000 deficits of past years.

In looking at the two funds other than the general fund, Rubley reported good news in each.

Food service added $13,000 to the $123,000 carryover from the previous year.

“That’s pretty exceptional,” Rubley said. “Your costs are in line with your fees and that’s very unusual.”

Most districts struggle to keep their food service fund in the black, he said.

Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith noted later that success in the food service budget has come without raising lunch prices.

The budget called for a transfer of $220,000 to the athletic fund and that resulted in an excess of $6,000. The key, Rubley said, is to see if the district is transferring more than what was budgeted. The $6,000 excess could be brought back to the general fund if needed.

Griffith pointed out that the $47,000 deficit is the lowest in many years, despite “very trying times.”

“It’s an amazing feat,” he said. “This is good news.”

He praised maintenance worker Jim Petry, who was in the audience, as an example of a staff member doing more with less. He also noted that administrator Nate Parker has filled two staff positions, and that board members have faced some tough decisions in bringing down expenses.

Rubley agreed.

“You have to be economically responsible and take measures that aren’t always popular with the public,” he said.

Griffith also praised school finance director Erica Metcalf.

“Erica is really the heart behind this, working her magic,” he said. “It took a lot of magic this time.”

COACHING—Board members accepted the resignation of varsity football coach Dan Hoffman and junior varsity coach Mike McDowell.

CONFERENCES—Elementary school dean of students Mary Fisher reported an attendance rate of 97 percent at the recent parent-teacher conferences.

BREAKFAST—Fisher spoke of several good indications since the start of the free breakfast program, but she’s withholding judgment until several months of data are collected.

So far, she’s seen a reduction in tardiness, fewer children sent to the office for disciplinary problems and improved behavior overall.

“Teachers like it and the kids just absolutely love breakfast in the classroom,” she said.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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