Morenci school budget projects deficit 2011.07.07

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The Morenci Board of Education passed a deficit budget for the 2011-12 school year, but the expected shortfall isn’t nearly as great as once feared.

School finance director Erica Metcalf presented the board with a spending plan that projects a $300,000 deficit, however, negotiations with teachers—and possible insurance and salary concessions—are still underway. The current contract expires at the end of August.

“We’ve made some awful big assumptions with our general fund,” Metcalf said. “We started with a $1.1 million budget deficit and now I’m projecting a $300,000 budget.”

A year ago Metcalf projected a worse-case scenario of $300,000 under, but she now thinks the fiscal year will end with a deficit closer to $200,000.

“I anticipate it being better than that,” she said, “and I’ve still got two months to work with before it’s final.”

The budget for next year reflects a variety of financial gains and losses:

• staff retirements;

• staff retire/rehires;

• teacher layoffs (although a few were recalled);

• Federal Education Jobs Funds totaling $176,928 (deferred from last year to 2011-12) that can be used for general education purposes;

• A change in the way the state figures enrollment from the fall and spring count days (equal to a loss of five students);

• An anticipated drop of 30 students from fall 2010;

• Revenue decline in local property taxes due to a decrease in property values and an increase in delinquent payments;

• A loan of $640,000 through the Michigan Finance Authority. Last year the district borrowed $700,000. Repayment could become a challenge if savings through salaries and benefits aren’t realized, Metcalf said.

The district could continue to borrow throughout the school year, Metcalf said, but the goal is to avoid any additional loans.

The bottom line, Metcalf said, is for “all the stars to align” and for the staff and community to continue doing what they’ve done in the past.

“Everyone has pulled together in the past and will need to more than ever this year,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne apologized for the continuing cuts and changes that have been made during tough financial times, but expressed his commitment to making sure the school district still exists in the future.

Metcalf said she and Osborne continue to work toward additional cost savings.

“There’s nothing definite, but we keep brainstorming and re-evaluating,” she said. “It will no doubt be a tough year financially, by far the toughest in my tenure here. I will re-evaluate where we are after my audit numbers. Then we can have a better picture on our fund balance and enrollment and how we are sitting going into the first half of 2011-12.”

Morenci’s 2009-10 budget called for expenditures of $6.85 million. That fell to $6.33 million last year. The budget approved by the board last week shows expenditures of $6.1 million.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • 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.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • 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

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016