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Gladstone schools set budget

GLADSTONE — Despite continued uncertainty regarding school funding in Michigan for the upcoming school year, an initial budget for Gladstone Area Schools’ 2020-21 fiscal year was approved Monday. A special meeting of the Gladstone Area Schools Board of Education was held virtually that evening.

The budget packet contained resolutions for the district’s general fund, school service fund, debt retirement fund and student activity fund. Initial budgets for the public library fund, major maintenance fund, technology fund and scholarship fund were also included.

In the general fund resolution, total revenues of $13,795,393 and total expenditures of $14,551,345 were listed for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

“Typically, we would not be presenting you with a budget that expects to spend $755,000 out of fund balance. We do not expect that that’s where we’re going to even start the school year,” Superintendent Jay Kulbertis said.

The imbalanced nature of the initial budget was mostly due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on Michigan’s schools and economy. Gladstone Area Schools has budgeted for sizable decreases in per-student state funding in its next fiscal year because of this.

“We project a $700 student decrease in the fiscal year (2020)-2021. Our state aid revenue is based on that,” Business Manager Lisa Boudreau said.

A number of Gladstone faculty members are being moved to different positions for the 2020-21 fiscal year. An informal hiring freeze has also been put into place going forward.

“We used attrition for a lot of the cost savings on the expenditure side for the general fund,” Boudreau said.

On the other hand, Kulbertis said no Gladstone Area Schools job positions had been cut in the initial budget.

“We think that would be putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Personnel-related decisions will be finalized once more information on school funding is provided by the state government.

Boudreau said she felt the initial budget presented Monday gave Gladstone Area Schools as good of a start as possible given the circumstances.

“It isn’t pretty, and we still have a long ways to go, but — until we have a little bit more information from the state — I think this is the best-case scenario that we can give you at this point,” she said.

A public hearing on the budget was held as part of Monday’s meeting. No members of the public spoke during the hearing.

At Monday’s meeting, board members also voted to adopt Budget Amendment 3 for the 2019-20 school year. The budget amendment included resolutions on the general fund, school service fund, debt retirement fund and student activity fund. Final amendments to the public library, major maintenance, technology and scholarship funds were approved by the board, as well.

For the general fund, the budget amendment listed revenues of $15,398,278 and expenditures of $15,140,676. The previous general fund budget amendment listed revenues of $15,258,080 and expenditures of $15,319,239.

In other business, the board:

– adopted a state aid note resolution.

– approved the hiring of Christina Faymonville as a secondary math teacher.

– made multiple appointments to the Professional Development Advisory Committee.

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