September 2, 2014

SSC school board approves 2014-15 budget

Awards bids to rebuild dugout, shed

File photo
Koin Builders was selected as the contractor to build a new athletic storage shed, as the old one was destroyed in a storm last November.
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STANDISH — An operating budget projected to drain the Standish-Sterling school district’s fund balance by nearly $600,000 was approved during the SSC school board’s June 16 meeting.

The budget adopted for the 2014-15 school year projected approximately $15.2 million in revenues and roughly $15.8 million in expenses. According to business and finance director Mike Waldie, the district currently has $3.9 million in fund balance, but expects to use close to $500,000 of those funds to balance its current fiscal year budget.

“If we lose $470,000, then our fund balance at the end of this current fiscal year will be $3.47 million,” he said. “And if we lose the anticipated $575,000, then the fund balance at the end of 2015 will be $2.876 (million).”

Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said the district expects to receive an additional $100 from the state in per pupil funding, and an additional $125 per pupil in equity funding, which would bring the per pupil allowance up to $7,251 per student.

Equity funding is aimed at helping the lowest-funded districts get closer to the highest-funded districts, Kroczaleski said. He said voters in some districts approved millages higher than 6 mills when Proposal A was passed in 1994, which locked those districts into higher funding from the state due to the greater property tax collection. Kroczaleski said those districts, unlike SSC, would likely see a reduction in state allowance.

Despite the expectations of new revenue, the budget was adopted with a projected loss of nearly 70 students, Kroczaleski said.

“If you add up the amount of new revenue, you’re roughly around $357,000, but when you lose 68 students, that is a $477,000 loss,” he said. “You’re going backwards.”

Waldie said the local districts will also be on the hook for an additional 1 percent of employee retirement costs in 2014-15, raising the local contribution for retirement to 25.78 percent.

Kroczaleski said the state’s best practices incentive will also be stricter in 2014-15 and districts will have to meet seven out of nine best practices to receive around $50 extra per pupil.

“When I look at them right now, we meet five for sure,” he said. “Are we going to get two more out of there? I’m not sure.”

Many school districts are upset with the state’s education funding decisions, especially due to the $400 million increase to community colleges and higher education institutions, Kroczaleski said.

“It’s just very frustrating,” he said. “Schools continue to stay above water and it gets very hard.”

The 2014-15 fiscal year begins July 1.

In other school board news, a contractor was selected to rebuild a dugout and athletic storage shed destroyed in a wind storm last November. Koin Builders of Sterling was the low bidder for both projects, bidding $50,660 on the athletic storage shed and $13,000 on the dugout.

Kroczaleski said the projects will be paid for with insurance claim monies. Overall, the school district expects to receive around $151,000 from its insurance claim to cover to storm damage.

“We’re anticipating getting $151,000,” he said. “That encompasses both of these facilities, the contents. We had some damage at the bus garage. Some fencing was damaged. A tree fell and hit a bus.”

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