Esky schools plan budget options

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board heard an update on the district’s current budget projections for the 2017-18 school year during its regular meeting Monday.

Interim Superintendent Steve Martin provided the board with an update on the school’s current budget projection, which has had some minor changes since last discussed during the committee of the whole meeting on May 8.

Martin noted there are two budget projections in the works. Differences in the proposals include the possible change of the contracted group that handles Escanaba’s custodial services and adding in kindergarten enrollment counts and the possible hiring of another kindergarten teacher for the 2017-18 school year.

In the first budget plan, “Plan A,” Martin explained that if the board went on to approve a new custodial service, the estimated expenses over estimated revenues for 2017-18 would face a shortfall of $5,991 instead of the previously predicted $4,616. The district is looking into changing its custodial services from D.M. Burr to Accent Specialty Services, which could change the cost per each additional custodian from $30,000 to $33,000 as Accent offers more pay for most of its hourly employees than D.M. Burr.

Using the cost saved if the board approved the switch from D.M. Burr to Accent Specialty Services, the budget currently holds an estimated June 30 fund balance of $1,056,822 and an estimated July 1, 2018 balance of $1,050, 831, causing the shortfall of just over $5,000.

Martin said the district is still using Gov. Rick Snyder’s and House and Senate’s budget proposals to help estimate what the budget will be for the upcoming year. Synder’s and the Legislature’s proposals offer more money per pupil as well as increases in at-risk funding for students.

For the second plan, or “Plan B,” Martin stated this projection is based off of current kindergarten enrollment numbers, which as of now, are looking up.

“We’re estimating eight more (kindergartners) than we were estimating before,” said Martin, adding that with this increase, the blended count increases from 2,321 students to 2,328.1.

While this may be good as the district would get more funds per pupil, the budget would then have to accommodate the cost of the possible addition of another kindergarten teacher, said Martin.

With this in mind while also using the Michigan legislatures and governor’s budget proposals, Escanaba would still face a shortfall of $36,788, noted Martin.

Using these numbers, the projected fund balance for June 30, 2017 is $1,056,822 and the estimated July 1, 2018 fund balance is $1,020,034, causing a negative expenses over revenues of around $36,000.

Although the school would be gaining more money per pupil, Martin noted there is still discussions about how the district would be able to afford another teacher, while also keeping the student’s education at it’s highest quality.

“We want to be both fiscally responsible and at the same time be prepared to support the kids 100 percent especially in their first year of their school,” said Martin, explaining the kindergarten through third grade principals in the district are working on getting the exact numbers for enrollment, adding these numbers may not be 100 percent until after kindergarten screenings, which take place on June 13 and 14.

Until those numbers are solidified, Martin said the board should keep both budget plans as viable options.

“But if we can solidify those numbers by July, then we can quickly move over to what our new blended count would be and talk about hiring a kindergarten teacher in July,” said Martin. “And the closer we can set it in the beginning of summer, the better it’s going to be for everyone.”

In other business, board members recognized staff within the district that are retiring at the end of this year by presenting them with a certificates of appreciation.

Staff members in attendance included Mary Beth LaPorte, a kindergarten teacher at Webster Elementary and district employee Ruth Madalinski. Others recognized, but not present, included Mary Jo Robinette, Mary VanEffen, Carol Pellegrini and Janet Gazan.

“We wish them well and a happy, healthy retirement,” said Martin. “They certainly deserve it.”