The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

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.

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