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.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
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    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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