Farwell BOE told books in good shape

Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent

The Farwell Board of Education met for a brief meeting last Monday night. The main topics of discussion were the school’s audit by Yeo & Yeo and the 40 Developmental Asset survey.

The audit discussion was led by Yeo & Yeo CPA Michael R. Zimmerman. According to Zimmerman the school’s funding is sound with more in assets than liabilities for the general fund, the construction fund, non-major governmental funds and total government funds.

“You can be proud you don’t have any of those issues,” Zimmerman said. “You are still operating in the black.”

According to figures presented by Zimmerman 57 percent of the school’s general fund revenue comes from the state. The figures added a further 33 percent come from property taxes with 7 percent being federal funding and the rest from other sources.

When it came to the uses of their funding Zimmerman’s data showed 52 percent of the general fund expenditures going to salaries of various employees with a further 26 percent going to employee benefits. Another 9 percent went to purchased services with 6 percent to supplies and materials, 2 percent to capital outlay and 5 percent to other uses.

“Living within your means is the big key,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman added the school’s internal controls indicate no material weaknesses. His audit also showed Farwell is in compliance for major programs such as its nutrition cluster, education job funds and the ARRA-Stat Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

“This district is in good shape and that’s what we like to see,” Zimmerman said.

School Board President Max Paine said the board would vote to approve the results of the audit in two weeks.

The other main topic of discussion was the40 Developmental Asset Survey. The presentation on the survey was made by Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter.

“The purpose is to get data,” Seiter said. “The Dow Foundations give grants based on this data.”

Seiter said the survey measures 40 positive assets of the those taking it such as their commitment to learning or their support they receive from outside sources such as adult role models. He added the survey also measures well as 24 at risk behaviors such as drug or alcohol use as well as anti-social behaviors such as truancy, shoplifting and fighting.

According to materials provided by Seiter the survey was developed by the Search Institute of Minneapolis. If used this won’t be the first time the survey has taken place in this area, it was previously used twice in Midland County in 2006 and 2011 as well as by juvenile courts in Midland, Saginaw, Charlevoix and Emmet Counties.

Seiter said the survey would be issued to those between the sixth and twelfth grades. He said the tentative date for the testing across the Clare-Gladwin RESD area is the week of October 29 and added before that a letter would be sent home to parents allowing them to opt their children out.

Seiter said the planned version of the survey to be used as an older one. He said he and others looked over the new one but took issue with some of the questions, using the example of one asking ‘what is your sex’ with five possible answers, before making this decision. With that change made he said he believes the survey is a good idea.

“I would love for the board to adopt this,” Seiter said.

Seiter noted the data resulting from this survey would not be for the Farwell district, the data is gathered on a county level. His materials added the testing is anonymous, confidential and is not going to have any impact on school grades. The decision to give the survey passed by a 4-0 vote after a motion by board member Terry Ellenwood and a second by Rose Sharp.

The meeting ended with a discussion with a resident about the admission of a new student followed by a closed session to discuss property issues.