October 20, 2014

Arenac Eastern passes 2014-15 budget

Projecting big hit to fund balance

Posted

TWINING — The 2014-15 budget passed by the Arenac Eastern school board June 23 is projected to reduce the district’s fund balance by approximately $160,000, which would leave the district with $106,000 at the end of the school year in 2015.

Business Manager Lisa Ernst presented the projected revenues and expenditures for the upcoming year during a budget hearing. Ernst said the district is looking at approximately $1,879,000 in revenue and $2.4 million in expenses.

Ernst said the projected budget figures were formulated using a projected student count of 187 students, and with no possible cuts taken into account.

“The majority of the expenses over revenues is the declining enrollment,” said Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski. “We are small enough, and rural, that we fit the definition for a three-year declining enrollment average, so it’s not dollar for dollar.”

Kroczaleski said a three-year blended count will use next year’s student count as well as the previous two years’ counts to determine the student count.

While the three-year blend does help, Ernst said that unfortunately for the district, the 265-student enrollment number from 2011-12 will be gone, so the blend will take a big hit.

“It still helps, but ever year it gets worse,” she said. “A higher number comes off. A lower number comes on.”

Ernst told the board the budget was generated looking at the worst-case scenario.

Kroczaleski said the district does expect to receive $225 more in per-pupil allowance from the state, as the base per-pupil payment is being increased from $7,026 to $7,126, and the district will receive $125 in equity funding. However, he did say the district’s contribution to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System is increasing.

“MPSER rate went up a percent, so you’re not receiving a full increase,” he said.

Best practice monies were not included in the budget for next year, according to Kroczaleski. While in the past the district met the criteria to receive the bonus funding, Kroczaleski said it would be more difficult to get the extra money this year.

“They changed some, and there is a little more stringent rules as to what you have to meet to get those dollars,” he said.

In the past, Kroczaleski said he was confident the district could meet the required seven of eight practices, but this year with the regulations ratcheted up, meeting the seven of nine best practices to receive the extra money did not seem likely.

He added that best practices were also reduced from $52 per student to $50 per student.

The budget was passed 4-1 with board member Richard Klender voting no. Board members Mark Heideman and Roxanne Stange were absent.

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