September 30, 2014

Arenac Eastern board looking at finances

Has no plans to close school

Posted

TWINING — The Arenac Eastern school board has started work to reduce its budget for the next school year to avoid a budget crunch, according to Interim Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski.

Kroczaleski said he and board members are looking at a variety of options to deal with an anticipated budget deficit for the 2013-14 school year, but one option off the table is closing the school down.

“There’s no talk of closing the building,” he said. “We will have to make cuts and adjustments, but we are going forward.”

The school board has fielded questions and concerns from parents who believed that would be the case, he said, but it is not something they are considering.

Michigan schools need to set their own budget by June 30, before the state’s deadline to finalize its own budget. As a result, Kroczaleski said AE cannot be certain of next semester’s exact situation until the time comes, but they are looking over a variety of options and ways they could cut costs, and the savings each would bring.

Once the board has all the numbers in front of them, Kroczaleski said they would be able to decide where they will make reductions to balance the budget once more. He added it could be a combination of smaller cuts, but the board will not know for sure until the process is complete.

“We are talking different options and ways. It’s always hard, because we won’t know what our funding will be until the state tells us,” he said. “Student enrollment and state funding are the key areas for setting next year’s budget.”

Kroczaleski is also the Standish-Sterling superintendent, and noted that with him working in both districts, the schools are looking at additional ways to share services, or provide services more cost-effectively together.

The AE board announced during its meeting Dec. 10 that following the loss of a few students in the October count, they were going to need to adjust their budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

At the same meeting, Beverly Bonning with the Thrun law firm presented a variety of options available to districts unable to immediately close a budgetary gap, which can include multi-year deficit reduction plans. While building closure is an option under state law, districts have multiple other legal possibilities to avoid that.

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