GLADSTONE - The Gladstone Area School District adopted its budget at a special meeting on June 22. The meeting was scheduled to meet state requirements that the district's budget be adopted by June 30.
The board used the most up-to-date information available and estimates in the new budget. It is designed to reduce expenditures and still provide a financial cushion for unknown expenses, including those related to an ongoing arbitration case.
"We are very pleased with the adoption of a balanced budget for the upcoming school year, understanding that there is still much work to be done," said Gladstone Schools Superintendent Dr. Jay Kulbertis.
The initial budget adopted last June would have reduced the fund balance by $444,000, to offset costs caused in part by the statewide financial crisis affecting schools.
In the new budget expenditures will still cut into funds, but by roughly $300,000 less than was projected in the original budget. "By establishing strategic partnerships, and leveraging existing relationships, the Gladstone Area Schools made substantial progress in balancing its budget with each quarterly amendment," said Kulbertis.
The district's annual improvements in the budget have been recognized by Michigan School Business Officials. MSBO publishes a ranking of schools throughout the state based on the financial risk schools are facing. The MSBO's scale runs from 0 to 9, with 0 being the lowest financial risk level. In 2010 Gladstone Area Schools received a 3, and in 2011 the score was lowered to a 2.
"By having our financials in order, we feel we are in a stronger position to maximize our educational programming," said Kulbertis.
Facility upgrades have also been a major focus for the district. In February voters approved the sale of up to $7,550,000 in bonds to finance construction and renovation projects in the district.
The bonds allowed the district to finance the construction projects without adjusting the 7.0 percent millage rate. Because property values in Gladstone have increased slightly, the school has been able to reduce the millage to 6.65 mills.
"Our community supported our request, and we will work hard to over-deliver on our promise to be good stewards," said Kulbertis. "It is very satisfying to already be ahead of pace, and be able to lower our debt levy while we are just beginning the construction phase of our project."