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Budget Season

March 30, 2009

As I have stated here before, I do not like to talk a great deal about the budget as it distracts from the conversations about what should be our main focus – improving student achievement.  However, it is now “budget season” and I will be communicating the budget issues we are addressing for the 2009-2010 school year. Below is a breakdown of where the process stands and some of the variables we are considering as we plan for next year’s (July 2009-June 2010) budget.

Federal Funds & Foundation Allowance
As we all know, the federal stimulus package will mean some revenue for public schools in Michigan. There are a few ways we see this impacting Saline.  First, it appears that the State’s ability to access the funds will preserve our Foundation allowance at the 2008-2009 level.  This is a far cry from the original $200 per pupil annual increase that Proposal A was built upon, and not the $100 per pupil increase we have averaged over the last 6 years.  However, it is better than the Governor’s initial budget that proposed a reduction of $59 per pupil.  This would have meant a $324,000 reduction in funding.

In addition, it appears we will get some funds to develop new programs related to our Special Education program.  It is still not clear how much, or to what extent these dollars can be used for existing programs.  In almost every case with federal funds, districts are expected to fund programs that begin with federal dollars after the funding ends.  This means we will need to critically review any new programs to ensure they can be funded once the federal stimulus dollars are gone.

Enrollment
Our enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year multiplied by the foundation grant from the State makes up 84% of our budget.  As you can imagine, during this time of economic turmoil predicting enrollment numbers from year to year is difficult.  Thankfully, for the 2008-2009 school year, we had almost the same number of students as the previous year.  Given that Washtenaw County alone lost almost 1,100 school aged children – holding steady compares to the growth we saw in the early part of this decade.  For next year, we are again planning on flat enrollment.

Sinking Fund & CARES
On May 5th, voters will decide on two proposals that will have an impact on the budget and planning.  The CARES ballot proposal would preserve current programs and services related to Cultural Arts, Recreation, Enrichment and Senior Citizens.  The Sinking Fund would address needed building repairs, updating and renovations. Neither the Sinking Fund or CARES can go directly to the general fund, however, the Sinking Fund would address building needs that will otherwise come from the general fund.

Operational Costs
On the operational side, over the last two years we have cut approximately $2.5 million from our general fund.  This has allowed us maintain a balanced budget and to purchase needed textbooks and technology for our students and staff.  Like all districts, we face rising employee expenditure including health care and retirement costs.

Current Planning
The Board of Education Budget Committee has met twice since January to discuss the basics of the 2009-2010 budget and begin to review assumptions for next school year.  Based on the current information and the assumptions for next year – we are looking to address an $800,000 budget shortfall.  We have already taken steps to trim this number by not replacing 2 staff members who have left since March 1st.

Next Steps
The first draft of our 2009-2010 budget is due to the Board of Education by April 30th.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 31, 2009 8:02 am

    Scot,

    Many of us realized that from the very beginning Proposal A would place severe hardships on public education in MI. After all it was a major tax cut. As long as we have people in elected office who feel that the only answer to MI’s problems is based on cutting taxes we are in trouble. Some how the concept of the common good has been replaced by both corporate and individual greed.

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