September 18, 2014

SSCS projecting $670,000 loss in fund equity

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STANDISH — Early estimates show that Standish-Sterling Community Schools will have a $670,000 loss from its fund equity for 2011.

At a school board meeting held Dec. 13, district business specialist Mike Waldie presented a budget amendment to the board.

“Right now we are looking at $670,000 in losses to our fund equity,” he said.

Waldie said that after last year, the district’s fund equity had around $5.1 million.

“Unless something drastic happens with the state, that $670,000 is going to be gone,” he said.

Waldie said the losses from last year and this year are due to losses in the revenue stream due to cuts at the state and federal level. He added that the loss in revenue is frustrating because the district cannot do anything about it.

“We lost 49 students between last fall and this fall,” he said. “That is about a $350,000 loss. (Also), the state of Michigan increased the percentage we are required to put into the state pension fund. That’s another $300,000.”

“It is uncontrollable for us,” he said.

Although the projected loss will hurt Standish-Sterling Community Schools, Waldie said the district is in a better position now than most districts in the state.

“At least we have this (fund equity) balance,” he said. “Schools are falling on hard times right now. It is good that we can fall back on our fund equity, but we can not keep hitting our fund equity this hard, or it will be gone in a matter of years.”

Superintendent Michael Dodge said the school board has begun looking at ways to keep losses at a minimum, but no decisions have been made.

“We can’t continue to lose money out of our fund equity like this and expect to be healthy,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to keep this from happening.”

Dodge said that the district is in better shape than most districts, and having a security blanket helps in tough economic times.

“We have to hang on until things get better,” he said.

Dodge said the board, and the rest of the district need to work together and figure out a plan for future spending. He added that Standish-Sterling Community Schools are proud of all the programs it has.

“We offer a lot of programs here, and I believe that they are all essential for student learning,” Dodge said. The problem is, how do you choose what programs are more important than others?”

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