Fayette school board 2012.10.17

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette Local Schools treasurer Kelly Bentley has no problem accepting the numbers from the first couple of years from the five-year financial forecast she's required to make, but after that not so much. There are just too many variables to change the picture.

That doesn't mean she's ignoring the remainder of the five-year forecast. After all, when the projection shows the district's cash running out in the 2015-16 school year, that's certainly something to keep in mind.

Actions by state legislators could change the financial picture quickly and property reappraisals by the county could have a significant impact.

The financial projection for the past year called for a deficit, but instead the district came out $100,000 in the black due to a general fund decrease of $273,000. Administrators made cuts in unnecessary programs and services, and benefited from a wage freeze that staff members agreed to take.

"That really was a bonus for us," Bentley said about wages.

This year general fund expenses are moving back upward by $169,000 due to two additional staff members at the elementary school, step increases to teachers and other factors.

That increase cuts into the fund balance—the money that's expected to run out three years down the road. In the nearby Morenci district, its fund balance will soon be exhausted, with nothing left over to pull it out from a deficit budget.

"The economy plays a big part in our funding," Bentley said.

Layoffs lead to less income tax revenue and an increase in delinquent payments. When the state switched to the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) a few years ago, tax revenue dropped and Bentley doesn't see that the district is receiving anything from that change. In the past, when businesses were given abatements for expansion or new hirings, schools would still receive their share of taxes, but that’s no longer the case.

Several factors can affect spending, also, such as the need to hire substitutes during the school year, the increasing cost of insurance and fuel, and changes in special education needs.

Barring any unexpected catastrophes, Bentley figures the district will make it through for now, but she will continue to monitor the situation to appraise the board of education about the need for more cuts to reduce deficit spending or for an additional levy. 

Voters renewed the existing general fund levy a year ago. Although the levy brings in $298,000 annually, those funds don't last long against a biweekly payroll of $100,000.

“Our main focus is to educate children,” Bentley said, “and the challenge is to work within the revenue dollars we receive. Our goal is to continue making good, solid fiscal decisions.”

Board of education members approved the latest five-year forecast Monday at the regular October meeting.

MOBILE—Policies regarding the use of mobile devices by students is changing. The new policy would allow the use of devices in the cafeteria during lunch and in classrooms for certain projects, upon request by the teacher and approval by the principal.

DONATION—A donation of $3,335 from the Fayette Area Foundation was given for the purchase of a laptop computer and software for the music department and iPads with covers for the technology department. 

STAFF—Family leave through Dec. 7 was granted to bus driver Cheryl Shaffer. Brian Keefer and Rodney Kessler were approved as volunteer coaches for the winter season. Paul Baker was approved as a volunteer band assistant to help with the pep band.

MEETINGS—The November board meeting was changed to 7 p.m. Nov. 13 due to parent-teacher conferences. The December meeting was moved to 6 p.m. Dec. 17 due to a basketball game.

  • 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.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.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.

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