Ranck tells Harrison BOE fund balance to be $1.5 million

Monday night’s full agenda at the Harrison Board of Education meeting centered around items that needed to be finalized by the June 30th end of the school year.

Business Manager Janice Ranck went over the details of the 2011-12 budget that will need to be amended by June 30th and the projected 2012-13 budget, which will need to be adopted.  With details on both still being finalized, the Board set a budget hearing and meeting, which will likely be very short, to pass those budgets on June 21st at 5:00 p.m.

In the meantime, Ranck went over some of how the numbers for each budget are calculated.  She explained that State Aid is formulated by taking 90 percent of the fall student count, plus 10 percent of the spring student count, times the per pupil foundation allowance.  While the State budget has allotted $120 more per pupil for the upcoming school year, Ranck said that revenue will also be negatively affected by an estimated 2 percent decrease in the district’s taxable value of property.

When all the factors were done being added, subtracted and adjusted, Ranck estimated that the 2011-12 ending fund balance would be $1,495,000.

Changes that may affect the 2012-13 budget include an unknown per pupil amount paid out to districts that have achieved seven out of the eight Best Practices criteria.  While Ranck said Harrison would qualify for the Best Practices money, the amount is unknown because the pool of money set aside by the State will be divided amongst the districts that qualify.  Two other factors that may affect the 2012-13 budget are retirement payouts and contract negotiations.  Ranck said that using a student count of 1475, subtracting the 2 percent reduction in property tax revenue, and adjusting for known retirements and hirings would give Harrison an anticipated revenue of $12,455,000, with expenses totaling $13,950,000, leaving the district with an estimated 2012-13 fund balance of $588,000.  That estimate did not include Best Practices and other monies whose totals are not yet known.

The Board also discussed the upcoming Career and Technical Education enhancement millage, which all five districts in the RESD are supporting.  “If the enhancement millage is successful, you’ll see a reduction in the CTE tuition paid by the districts to the RESD to $500 a pupil.  That’s $1500 less than this year and $2000 less than the projected tuition approximately for next year.  So in the first year, the money generated by that enhancement millage would generate more spendable revenue to the district,” Superintendent Tom House explained.  Each year of the proposed 5-year millage, the tuition districts must pay to the RESD for CTE students would go up, so that districts would have less and less money over time to use to supplement programs, improve infrastructure or meet other needs.  “I think the public needs to know these are the priorities you have in year one and then tapering off as you go forward,” House told the Board.

With Hillside Elementary Principal Barb Elliott retiring June 30th, the Personnel Committee conducted interviews to replace her.  They recommended – and the Board approved – the hiring of Andrea Andera for the position.  Andera’s position will be posted internally for 15 days, which will allow time for teachers to bump into open positions as they occur, and still leave time to hire for the position that will be open in the end.

The Board discussed a resolution from the Harrison Education Association that would allow teachers to apply for retirement by June 30th (but who may leave as late as December 31st), to retire under the same contract as is currently in effect, even if a new contract agreement is reached prior to December 31st.  One teacher who planned to retire in November wanted assurances that the retirement stipend and benefits currently outlined in the contract would still be in effect.  After discussion, the Board voted unanimously to pass the resolution.  Administrators were aware of only the one teacher who planned to retire and who would be affected.

The Board discussed the Great Start Readiness Program, the pre-school program designed for 4-year-olds who are at risk economically or who have two other risk factors.  Some children may fall short of qualifying, according to Larson Elementary Principal Julie Rosekrans, but the program can accept up to 25 percent of students who are not at risk or who do not meet enough of the at risk criteria.  Rosekrans said the program currently has 28 children registered – which is low but typical for this time of year — but there are spaces for 64.  The program must accept at risk children first, but may then fill openings with other children.  The Board agreed that, since the program is partially funded by the general fund, it would not be a financial loss to accept a certain number of children who do not qualify as “at risk” enough.  If the numbers of those children were too high, the Board would consider implementing a tuition-based program to help fund it.

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, the Harrison Board of Education:

*approved the resignation/retirement of Kim Taylor.

*approved renewing their MASB Michigan Association of School Boards membership at the cost of $3,513.

*approved a one-year extension of their contract with MASB Labor Relations Services.

*approved the recommendation of Middle School Principal Rick Foote to hire Tori Blystone as the summer school English teacher, Joel Woolston as the summer school science teacher, Kelly Pieprzk as the summer school social studies teacher, and Julie Bentley as the summer school math teacher.

*passed the resolution to remain a member of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

*approved the Technology Use Policy that would make them compliant with the Children Internet Protection Act and allow them to continue to receive technology funding from the Universal Service Fund.

*tabled a discussion about changing the yearly organizational meeting from July to January, pending a review from Thrun law firm.

*accepted, with regret, the resignation of Board Secretary Denise Haskin, which will take effect as soon as a replacement is appointed.

*went into Closed Session at 8:56 p.m. to discuss contract negotiations.