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.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.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • 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.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • 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.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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