October 22, 2014

Bay-Arenac ISD superintendent gives budget report

Kevin Bunch
Bay-Arenac ISD Superintendent Michael Dewey spoke at the Standish-Sterling school board meeting April 9, giving the annual budget report for the ISD.

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — The Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District is aiming to improve its learning centers amid tight budgets, ISD Superintendent Michael Dewey told the Standish-Sterling school board April 9.

The ISD is hoping to work on a variety of capital improvement projects for its facilities, with Dewey giving roof repairs and parking lot improvements at its career center in Bay City as an example, but he said the ISD intends on working on all other buildings. He said the total cost would be $1.5 million over a four year period.

“We aren’t allowed to pass a millage,” Dewey said. “We have to designate funds to do it, and since we can’t do it in one year, we’ll do it in a four year period instead.”

Dewey said the ISD is looking at estimated revenues of $5.5 million for its general fund in the upcoming fiscal year, with estimated expenses of $6.4 million. Since the budget must be balanced, he said the ISD would work on getting both numbers to equal out as close as possible.

One way Dewey hoped to do this was through grant programs. He said the ISD anticipates receiving a variety of grants through the state for general education and special education, which would help the budget out.

The special education budget is much closer, with an estimated $20.5 million in revenues and $21.6 million in expenditures, Dewey said. The special education budget having a larger expenditure amount is not surprising due to how the revenue is allocated, he added.

Dewey explained that the ISD transfers special education money out of the budget and to the local school districts at the end of the year. As a result, the expenditures are skewed, he said.

“We have to incorporate it into our fund distribution, include it as revenue and then transfer it out,” Dewey said. “The budget will always be skewed somewhat, and would always have more expenditures.”

Finally, he said the career technology budget is currently estimated at $9.5 million in revenues and $9.7 million in expenditures.

Dewey said retirement costs are the biggest problem facing the ISD. The ISD will have to set aside 27.7 percent of its payroll funds for retirees for the next fiscal year, unless a state effort to reduce that number to around 24 percent comes through.

Dewey also said state officials are talking about introducing best practices funding for school districts, including the ISD. Two proposals are floating around Lansing at the moment, he said: Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing 95 percent of districts’ funding will go out as usual, with the extra 5 percent being reliant on completing those best practices. A competing proposal in the state House of Representatives would give districts 100 percent of their funding, plus an additional five percent for completing the practices.

Dewey said the ISD should be able to complete any best practices proposal put forth by Lansing.

Special education funds come partially from the state, while other funds come from the ISD’s charter millage. Dewey said the ISD has been able to find creative sources of revenue, however, such as selling excess Internet bandwidth to Saginaw Valley State University on evenings and weekends.

In total the ISD budget comes out to about $33 million for the year.

Dewey also said a job-training program with Delta College has paid off for two ISD students. Under the program, students can work with college staff to learn the ropes of a specific job, and Dewey said two students had been hired for permanent positions.

“They will be contributing members of society thanks to the program,” Dewey said.

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