BELDING— In preparation to receive funds through the state’s Best Practice Initiative, the Belding Area Schools district has released its first preliminary budget of the 2014-2015 fiscal school year.
According to Superintendent Sara Shriver, as the district attempts to receive funds from the Best Practice Initiative — approximately $52 in state aid per student in the district — it must meet seven of eight requirements. A 2014-2015 revenue and expenditure projection must also be included.
Shriver said the budget is currently a rough estimate due to a lack of data available at this time.
“The state hasn’t really told us what our allocations for next year are and we don’t know what our enrollment will be for next year, so we had to guess,” she said.
According to Finance Director Adrienne Barna, the budget projection will change based on information from the state and additional reductions that may be necessary prior to the June board meeting where the 2014-2015 budget will be presented to the board for approval.
In its current state, the proposed budget will operate at a deficit of $846,373.
“At this point, we are looking at a deficit of about $850,000,” Barna said. “We will be continuing to work between now and June to reduce that significantly.”
Barna said one estimate that significantly reduced the estimated revenue for the district was the student count, which is projected to be 50 students less than the 2013-2014 school year.
The budget estimates an increase in state funding per student from $7,076 to $7,188, but a reduction of 50 students in the district would amount to approximately $359,400 in lost revenue.
The total estimated expenditures for the district is $18,114,692 and total estimated revenue is $17,267,319, hence the deficit.
With a beginning fund balance of $2,158,543, the deficit would still leave the district with a healthy fund balance of $1,312,170 at the end of the fiscal year.
The proposed budget includes no increases in expenditures for raises, salaries or benefits.
The retirement rate increased by 0.9 percent, as mandated by the state, and medical insurance hard caps increased 2.9 percent based on increases in the medical consumer price index.
The budget also factors in half a year of Affordable Care Act Coverage, beginning Jan. 1 2015.
The budget includes the reduction of two teaching positions, one at the elementary level, one in special education, based on declining enrollment.
One secretarial position and one administration position will also be reduced through attrition as the high school assistant principal position will be combined with the athletic director position.
No board action was necessary, as action will take place on the budget in June.
Also at Monday’s meeting, board members voted unanimously to approve a final revision to this year’s school calendar in light of the many snow days the district experienced after a harsh winter.
“During the 2013-2014 school year, we had 17 ‘act of God’ days in which we didn’t have school,” Shriver said. “The State of Michigan will forgive six of these days that will not need to be made up. However, there are 11 days that will need to be made up.”
The district calendar will now extend to June 20 for students in order to comply with state regulations.
Although Gov. Rick Snyder recently approved relief for school districts dealing with extensive missed days of school, Shriver said the relief does not apply to Belding Area Schools. The relief only applies to school districts with 174 instructional days on a calendar. Belding Area Schools has 170 days in its calendar, thus no relief for days removed from the calendar can be provided.
Shriver stressed that the district will have no problem reaching the state-required 1,098 hours per school year.
The final three days of the calendar, June 18 through June 20, will be “half days” for students.
Reading Now Network
Also at Monday’s meeting, board members unanimously approved a resolution for the school district to join the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) Region 3 Reading Now Network in West Michigan.
Shriver said the move is designed to combat current legislation that would retain third grade students who do not pass the state assessment for reading.
“Third grade is a pivotal time where students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” she said. “Children who do not read proficiently may not graduate from high school and are far less likely to earn a living wage as an adult. And yet, about one-third of our students are not proficient. We know we can do better.”
According to Shriver, 70 school districts in 13 counties will participate, coming to an agreement that the districts will “share best practices and work together for the good of all students in our region and county when it comes to reading.” She said the Reading Now Network will hep to identify what works well in teaching reading, as well as help share and replicate the results.
The Reading Now Network has adopted the goal of realizing a minimum of 80 percent of third graders reading proficiently at grade level and systematically implementing intervention strategies for the remaining 20 percent.
In other matters …
• An AP environmental science course will begin in the 2014-2014 school year at Belding High School.
“We want our public to know that we aren’t just continually trying to provide intervention to students who are struggling,” Shriver said. “We are also looking at the other end of the spectrum, providing some accelerated courses for students to advance.”
• Board members voted unanimously to approve a one-year contract extension from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, between the Mid-Michigan Schools Beverage Consortium and Pepsi. According to the contract, there will be an increase in commissions in lieu of rebates on full service vending sales and there will be a requirement to offer six different brands or flavors in each building.
• Board members voted unanimously to authorize Shriver to negotiate and execute a contract with Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) for negotiation services.
• Board members voted unanimously to extend the district transportation secretarial position from 10 months to 12 months per year.
“Although this appears to be a budget increase, with all the transitions that will follow in the budget reduction process, there will be a savings to the district in the secretarial staffing,” Shriver said.
• Board members voted unanimously to approve the 2013-2014 Best Practices Incentive School Board Resolution.
• Board members voted unanimously to select Bobbie Kelley for membership to the ICISD Parent Advisory Committee.
• Board members unanimously approved a trip request for students Tye Wittenbach and Michael Albert to attend the National BPA Leadership Conference in Indianapolis, Ind. on April 30 through May 4.