Clare BOE approves budget for coming year

Following a special budget hearing, a tentative budget using $856,278 of the Clare School District’s fund equity to cover expenses was approved at Monday’s Clare Board of Education meeting.

The new budget mirrors the one adopted at the June meeting last year, when $1,019,528 of the Clare School District’s fund equity was added to pay for ever increasing expenses, finally leaving an actual fund balance of $1,402,065 at the end of this month.

The budgeted expenses for the 2011-12 year were $13,623,063. As of May 31, the actual expenses totaled $10,403,188. or 76.36 percent of the original budget with a month left in the current year.

District Business Manager Lynn Graham said the 2012-13 budget lists $12,317.644 in revenues and a total of $13,173,922 in expenses for the coming year and is based on a projected student count of 1,554 (with a $120 increase to $6,966 per student in State aid), a 2.5 percent decrease in health insurance premium costs (the family rate will drop by $459); an increase in the retirement contribution rate from 24.46 percent to 27.37 percent of payroll; and a long list of budget cuts.

The fund balance will be reduced to just over a half million, $545,787; its lowest number in years. “That is the lowest our fund balance has been since I have been on the board,” Board President Tom Weaver said in May. “I hope we can get it back up.”

Cuts totaling $558,751, outlined last month and approved in the new budget included:

  • An April vote to eliminate the High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director position held by Michael Schubart. That will save the district approximately $62,400 next year.
  • One teacher who left in mid-year will not be replaced, and one position was eliminated at the high school with that teacher being moved to another position.
  • Three new teachers were hired to replace three veteran teachers, saving the district about $120,000, and not replacing one that retired will save the district another $114,000.
  • A special education teacher also retired and another will work in the Primary School half time and half time in the middle and high school.
  • Some school nurse costs are eligible to be paid through Title I funds saving $8,000.
  • Maintenance positions are being restructured from 7 full time and six five hour positions to two full time and 11 five hours positions, cutting another $130,736 from the budget.
  • Supplies are also being reduced, saving another $34,700. Custodial/Maintenance was reduced by 25,000. Supplies for teachers will see $7,500 cut. Other supplies being cut include building, superintendent and business office, nurses and library supplies.
  • The Operations Supervisor’s car and clothing allowances were cut dropping another $3,085. The Athletic budget has been cut by $15,000 and raising gate entry fees to $5 will add $18,000.
  • The elimination of insurance for bus drivers and one Class III bus run will save $32,830, and the elimination of additional pay including lead time for the head maintenance person and head custodial pay will save another $5,857.
  • Having the transportation supervisor do the MMCC run will save $8,594.
  • Finally incorporating the production of the yearbook as part of a regular class will save another $11,949 in the new budget.

Because the state aid payments from the State are not expected when the new school year begins, the board also approved a resolution Monday evening to borrow $1.7 million to begin the year’s operations. Interest on the loan will cost the district over $25,000.

During her report to the board, Superintendent Doniel Pummell told of her concerns over the “gap” between “students whose families are economically challenged (receiving free and reduced lunches) and students whose families are not disadvantaged. She said there is a 35 point average testing difference. “Our main focus is to close that gap,” she told the board.

She said she would be working with consultant Sam Ewing (the Data Dr.) and team meeting have been planned for the year. “We don’t want to let anyone slip through the cracks,” she said.

Primary Principal Mandy Bolen said the “Top to Bottom List” compares schools with similar demographics. “We are very low on that list,” she said.

Middle School Principal Steve Newkirk suggested that the schools on the top of that list be called to see what they are doing about the same problem. “We have been working on that gap. It has existed for the last seven years. I’m not overly concerned. It does fluctuate and I’m not sure it will ever go away but we have a group that can attack it and make improvements.”

Other business at the Clare BOE meeting Monday evening included:

*Approval of a resolution to borrow $1.7 million in anticipation of State Aid.

*Approval of 2011-12 budget amendments.

*Approval of the Student Network and Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy as required for the district to be eligible for USF funding for next year.

*Approval of the Michigan High School Athletic Association Participation Resolution.

*Approval of May bills totaling $108,156.64.