School budget shows Morenci going into deficit 2012.07.04

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It comes as no surprise to Morenci’s school administration and board of education. They knew it was coming; it was just a matter of when.

This is the year of the deficit.

The school district finished the 2011-12 fiscal year with only about $50,000 in its fund balance. With another deficit budget in place for the next school year, there will soon be no cash reserves to carry the district through.

The budget approved by the board of education June 27 projects a deficit of nearly $325,000, however, that’s largely dependent on enrollment.

The budget is based on 720 students, said superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne, and that might be a little generous, he said. It’s consistent with student numbers at the start of the last school year, but enrollment slipped to 707 by the end of the year.

“We have huge problems to address,” Osborne said. “We’ve become lean but we have to become leaner. We’re struggling with it.”

Staff members are already taking cuts through state-ordered reductions in insurance and retirement, he said, but salaries remain the district’s greatest expenditure.

The Hudson district, where Osborne also serves as superintendent, will climb out of its deficit situation this year after the board imposed a six percent salary cut.

Osborne looks forward to meeting with a superintendent from a district with a similar enrollment to Morenci’s to compare budgets line by line. He’s hoping that both sides will learn some cost-cutting ideas from each other.

Osborne is frustrated by actions from Lansing that make the situation tougher for school districts around the state. The governor and many legislators seem to be intrigued with charter schools, while small public schools are left to struggle.

Demands continue to grow, such as the new evaluation requirement placed on principals. Osborne isn’t saying the evaluation process is bad, but there was no extra funding from the state. Principals were taken away from their regular duties with no extra administrative help to fill the gap.

Budget

General fund revenue shows a loss of $32,000 from local property taxes due to delinquent accounts and a drop of $48,000 in state funding. Federal funding will fall by $192,600 due to the end of the  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus funds).

The total drop in revenue is projected at $272,800.

Expenditures show a decrease of $206,000 in instructional expenses (layoffs and state insurance changes); a drop of $101,500 in administrative costs (no superintendent secretary, a reduction in billing from the LISD, and no early retirement payments); and a $40,000 decrease in operations and maintenance for a total cut in expenses of $452,818.

This still leaves a projected deficit of $324,837.

The food service fund remains strong with a projected balance of $119,000. A state formula allows a transfer of $25,000 to the general fund to cover administrative costs. Federal funds through the National School Lunch Program are expected to increase due to growth in the number of students qualifying for free and reduced meals.

Athletic department expenses are expected to fall by $10,000, but even with the incoming transfer of $175,000 from the general fund, athletics are projected to produce a $24,000 deficit.

The tough part about creating a budget in June, said director of finance Erica Metcalf, is that it represents “a snapshot in time.”

“So much can change so fast,” she said, “let alone waiting on state funding.”

Budgets amendments are expected when enrollment is known in the fall.

  • 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.
  • Front.bridge.17
    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.
  • Front.eclipse
    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.
  • Cecil
    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.
  • Front.rest
    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.
  • Front.batter
    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.
  • Front.batter

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017