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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of 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.

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