Escanaba amendments leave $233,661 balance

ESCANABA – The Escanaba School Board unanimously approved two budget amendments – routine action for the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year – during Monday’s school board meeting.

The board passed the third budget amendment for the district’s general fund for the 2012-13 fiscal year with revenues in the amount of $21,189,377 and expenditures totaling $22,238,925, which leaves the district with a projected unreserved fund balance of $233,661 on June 30, 2013.

“One of the major components that has changed in amendment three in the general fund is a change in our retirement allocation,” explained the district’s Business Manager Sue Furney. “The state is helping to fund some of the retirement and the way that is occurring is they are paying us a certain portion of the retirement and then we have to expense it back to the retirement office within a certain account number so it shows as a true expenditure – as a revenue and expenditure. That amount is $226,074 for this year.”

The board also approved an amendment to the district’s hot lunch fund for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The amendment reflects revenues totaling $1,081,575 and expenditures of $1,129,746 with a projected unreserved fund balance of $51,587 on June 30, 2013.

The district will begin the 2013-14 fiscal year July 1 and is estimating a loss of 48 students.

Superintendent Michele Lemire highlighted the latest budget planning projections for the coming year, which shows a projected decrease in revenues of $307,762 linked to declining enrollment and a reduction in a Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System offset the district will receive.

The district is also anticipating an $82,600 retirement rate increase along with potential contractual and unemployment costs; approximately 30 positions have been reduced district-wide for the 2013-14 school year.

“By far, though, the thing that is really affecting us for next year is the fact that we didn’t make reductions this time along,” said Lemire. “We were hoping for better news. We really were. It was not a hope that was unfounded. We really did think that things were going to get better because we thought, ‘How could things get any worse?,’ but they did. So we spent $1,030,944 out of our savings to operate this school year. The fact is we don’t have another $1 million to spend next year and that’s why we’ve had to make those cuts. We’re working very hard to try and pull everything together because we want to keep Escanaba Escanaba. We’re very special in terms of what we can provide our kids.”

State Rep. Ed McBroom also addressed the board at the beginning of the meeting, where he talked about the impacts of declining enrollment and the efforts the Michigan Legislature has made to help school districts, such as increasing per-pupil funding from last year.

“For next year, when it comes to per-pupil funding, you’re seeing an increase but with your loss of students coupled together with that, you’re in a very hard spot,” he said.

McBroom encouraged the district to reach out to him earlier to discuss budgetary concerns through such avenues as superintendent roundtable discussions, which he can then bring to Lansing.

“We need to do more of that so I want to be more available to you and I hope you’ll reach out for that,” he said.

Despite concerns of school funding, McBroom did mention he has been hearing positive news from more people interested about potential economic growth and expansion coming to the area.

“I’ve had more meetings in my office in the last four or five months to do with people who are interested in investing and moving into this area and the Dickinson County area and creating new jobs in new markets than I had in the whole first two years I served in office,” he said.

The Escanaba School Board will hold a special meeting Monday, June 24, at 5:30 p.m. to adopt the 2013-14 budget.

In other business, the board:

– adopted a resolution to allow the district to borrow up to $2.6 million for cash flow purposes for the first part of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

– adopted a Michigan High School Athletic Association membership resolution from Aug. 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014. The resolution must be formally ratified to obtain membership into the MHSAA.

– approved a request from a member of the Escanaba Education Association to retire prior to the 2013-14 school year and to pay the member’s terminal leave payment in the 2014-15 school year. This will allow the district to recall a teacher from lay off status and properly budget the terminal leave expense in the 2014-15 school year.

– adopted a revised two-year lease agreement between the district and the North Menominee County Community Schools. The NMCCS will pay $9,000 per year for the two-year term, comprised of $4,000 for rent and $5,000 for utilities.

– approved a list of eight teachers recommended for advancement to the next steps of their probationary tenure cycle: Cody Fleming, Jeanne Johnson, Cheri Lehto, Melissa Mariin-Aho, Tara Moreno, Tara Mosier, Jessica Nelson, and Jeffrey Wright.

– approved a list of nine teachers who have successfully completed the current year of their probationary status: Jacob Berlinski, Lisa Gagnon, Magan Lantagne, Amy Markey, Colleen Martin, Ruth Oswald, Jamie Pirlot, Krista Warm, and Danielle Wotchko.