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Lack of state budget keeps school district guessing

GLADSTONE — Gladstone Area School District Superintendent Jay Kulbertis provided an update on the state budget process during Monday’s school board meeting.

With no state budget passed yet and the deadline for Michigan’s fiscal year fast approaching, school districts around the state were forced to estimate the amount the state would allocate for each student in its budget earlier this summer.

Kulbertis explained the budget has now moved from the conference committee where it will either be sent to the governor to sign or be sent back to the conference committee.

“Based on what we’ve seen it looks similar enough to what we originally budgeted,” he said. “It’s not similar to the governor’s approach. We had a conference call with the governor on Friday, maybe a half an hour. There were some upsides to the foundation increase, she was upset at certain things that were clearly important to her going forward in education that weren’t necessarily funded and there were quite a few earmarks that she mentioned may or may not be line item vetoed.”

Kulbertis said when there is a budget vote, which could go to the Sept. 30 deadline, and if the governor at least signs off on the per-pupil increase, the budget would give the school district its vast majority of state funding.

“It sounds like she’d be willing to at least sign off on the per-pupil increase even if she’s not in favor of the whole budget,” he said. “So we’ll know more by the end of the month. As far as news goes, that’s some news and it’s good news.”

In other business, the board:

– approved the minutes from the regular meeting on Aug. 19.

– heard reports from the nurse, administrators and superintendent, including the initial enrollment numbers. Cameron Elementary is currently up in enrollment; James T. Jones Elementary currently has the same enrollment numbers from the October 2018 count day numbers; Gladstone Junior High is currently up one student from last year; and Gladstone High School is currently right around the same as last year. The official count day isn’t until October. Kulbertis explained overall enrollment numbers are about even with last year’s numbers. He said a small dip in numbers had been predicted with the large graduation size last year and smaller kindergarten classes. However, Kulbertis did note initial numbers show the school district at 19 percent in school of choice students.

– approved the hire of Averi Kanyuh and Don Lauscher for coaching positions.

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