Saline School Board approves 'structurally deficient' $51.5 million operating budget for 2011-2012
The Saline School Board approved the district’s $51.5 million 2011-2012 operating budget Tuesday night by a 5-1 vote, which included the reduction of 18 teachers and also cut administrative and support staff.
Calling the budget “structurally deficient,” Superintendent of Schools Scot Graden said it was “the most difficult budget year in the last three years.”
He said this budget was “the end of the road” and that the district cannot continue along the same path, which included the use of about $1.3 million from the school district’s fund balance to close the deficit.
“Right now, we are still operating on a structural deficit, which is not sustainable,” said Tom Wall, assistant superintendent of administration, who was attending his last board meeting with the district. He's leaving the district and his position is not being filled.
The district’s fund balance was reduced from about $3.13 million to about $1.87 million, or 3.64 percent of the operating budget. The district has a policy that states it shall maintain at least a 5 percent fund balance, and if it drops below that amount, the district has a year to replenish the fund.
The drop in the fund balance concerned Trustee Lisa Slawson, who voted against the final budget because of it.
“This has been the hardest budget since I started on the board in 2004,” she said. “We are taking the fund balance below 5 percent, spending $1.3 million and we will have to replenish it with $2.3 million to reach 5 percent.”
“This is the end of the road, as Mr. Graden said, there will have to be painful concessions and layoffs,” in the future, she said.
Wall said on the expense side, about $28.5 million is for staff, or 56 percent of the total, about $16 million pays for benefits or 31 percent and $6.9 million is earmarked for “other” for thing such things as supplies and capital improvements.
For the 2010-11 year, staff costs were about $29.3 million or 57 percent of the general fund expenses, benefits were about $14.7 million or 29 percent and “other” accounted for about $7.2 million or 14 percent.
The final budget includes about $1.5 million in union concessions and cuts of about $1.5 million that include the reduction of 18 teachers, two administrators, and a security guard, as well as using about $1.3 million from the fund balance.
Not much changed from the preliminary budget that was introduced to the board earlier this month. However, instead of two teachers, four are being held “in reserve” should enrollment increase. The district is expecting a reduction of about 25 students in the fall. This year, it has about 5,360 students.
In total, the board voted on about $805,000 in staff adjustments.
The proposed budget also includes expenses that include a 24.24 percent increase in retirement benefits and a 10.1 percent increase in health care the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) as well as a reduction of 8.95 percent for Blue Cross/Blue Shield totaling about $995,000 for benefits. The board voted 5-1 to approve the budget with Board Member Todd Carter absent.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Saline stories, visit our Saline page.