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.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • 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).
  • 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.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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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