Clarkston Community Schools is projecting around 8 percent, or $6.9 million, fund balance for the 2016-17 budget, according to Executive Director of Business Services Mary Beth Rogers.
“My goal was to give you a balanced budget, I got as close as I could. This is a first reading, so this might change a little bit but my goal is bring you a budget to approve that’s as close to zero as possible,” Rogers said at the June 13 regular board meeting. “Right now we’re pretty much at a balanced budget with a projected fund balance of just over eight percent which meets the board’s parameters.”
The board will vote on the projected budget at the June 27 board meeting in order to meet the legally required June 30 deadline.
Some of the highlights of the 2016-17 budget include an increase of $120 per student for the State Aid Foundation Allowance which will increase the total allowance from $7,391 to $7,511 per student. Rogers estimates the increase will bring approximately $950,000.
Originally the budget included a 50/50 blended student count, which was a recommendation by Governor Snyder, where 50 percent of foundation allowance comes from the fall count and 50 percent comes from the spring count but Rogers said the conference committee voted to keep the 90/10 ratio, which she said worked in their favor. The budget also includes a 100 student loss, which equals about $730,000.
This past year’s fall count was 7,699 and the spring count was 7,656.
The district also received an Early Literacy Grant from the state, which will be approximately $80,000. Also on the revenue side, the district will receive a 50 percent match in Universal Service Funding
“That’s where you get 50 percent paid by the Federal Service E-Rate program. That got us 30 percent wireless this year,” Rogers explained. “But we have to come up with 50 percent, too, so I had to increase the budget a little bit so we could take advantage of that 50 percent.”
On the expenditure side, insurance benefits went up two percent, which will be an increase of $122,000, but retirement benefits were decreased by half a percent which is a $200,000 reduction.
When it comes to fund balance, Board Secretary Susan Boatman asked why they haven’t added any money to their “committed fund balance,” which currently has almost $505,000 in it.
“I don’t see an increase and it looks like it hasn’t been increased again and I thought we were committing $60,000 each year to it,” Boatman said.
Rogers said the board needs to approve it every year.
“That’s what keeps getting said and then nothing happens, so when are we supposed to make a motion,” Boatman asked.
Rogers said whenever the board would like to, but cautioned against doing it.
“It has to be a board decision, but I would be concerned about you doing that because we’re now in a place where we’re at eight percent fund balance,” she added. “If we were committing anything that reduces your fund balance if you do spend it, now we got to come up with $400,000 of that for a turf is going to reduce your fund balance down below eight percent.”
Boatman said originally some of the fund balance was to be designated to that account so they had money to replace things like the turf on the football field.
While Trustee Cheryl McGinnis understood Boatman’s point, she believes recommendations needs to come from the administration and the pros and cons be laid out as to why or why not put that money in to the committed fund balance.
“We most always operate in a vacuum that we work on a recommendation through the administration, whether we agree or disagree with it is the point we take action on,” McGinnis said. “I think I would still rather have a recommendation from the administration on what to do. Have that discussion thoroughly at the table here and decide whether or not we approve that recommendation.”
Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock thanked Boatman for bringing that to their attention and said he would talk to both administration and Board President Steve Hyer and get back to the board at the next meeting. Hyer and Vice President Elizabeth Egan were absent due to a conference in Washington D.C.