Baraga school board split on budget

BARAGA – Baraga Area Schools administrators presented a 2013-14 budget proposal to their school board Monday night, but the $356,102 projected deficit for the coming year led to a split vote among the six present board members.

Gale Eilola, Diane Mayo and Tracey Barrett voted in favor of the budget, which anticipated $5,188,922 in expenditures against $4,832,820 in revenue. Bill Stark, Bill Jondreau and Ralph Sackett voted against the budget, which would have reduced the district’s fund balance to $890,562. Board President Byron Sailor was absent from the meeting.

“I think what it is showing is the dilemma districts are in right now when there’s a no-win situation,” BAS Superintendent Jennifer Lynn said in a Daily Mining Gazette interview this morning. “We’re continuing to see red ink because our expenditures are exceeding our revenues. You’re stuck between cutting programs or living outside of your means. I don’t think either of those are good choices.”

Even though the $356,102 projected deficit this year is less than the $397,293 deficit proposed this time last year, the district’s finance committee had told Lynn it hoped to be closer to only a $200,000 deficit this year.

“Our board was split, but each individual gets split in making those decisions as well. We’re going to grapple with it during the week.”

The board will now hold a special meeting at 5 p.m., June 25, to decide on a budget, which by state law must be approved by the end of June.

No discussion about reasons for the board votes ensued during the meeting, but Stark earlier in the meeting cast the lone ‘No’ vote for an amended 2012-13 budget that called for $77,364 in final deficit spending.

“I can’t accept a budget that far in the red,” he said at the time.

The 2012-13 amended budget still passed 5-1 and featured a much-improved picture from the proposed $340,332 in deficit spending announced in April. The reason for the 2012-13 decreased amount was a back payment from impact aid, at-risk carryover funding and health insurance changes in contract years. The district typically amends the budget throughout the year, which often includes savings.

As part of the considerations for 2013-14, revenue is anticipated to drop from $5,214,706 last year to $4,832,820, even though State Foundation Grant funding is estimated to go up $60 per pupil, to $7,026. Funding will also increase from $40 to $70 per pupil based on performance. “This is a financial indication that even though we’re shooting for much higher proficiency rates, we’re in that direction because the state tests are showing student growth, and we’re being allocated more funds due to that,” Lynn said during the board meeting. “Hopefully it will continue in that direction.”

Another budget help will be the $39,054.14 allocated to the district from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s 2 percent monies, which come from gaming funds.

During Monday’s meeting, the board did unanimously approve of a district improvement plan with overarching strategies of student support; aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment; data-driven decision making; integrated technology; and parental engagement.

Also Monday, the board:

approved renewing membership with the Michigan High School Athletic Association for 2013-14.

granted tenure to Lisa Collins, computers, accounting, multimedia and personal finance teacher.

approved the following reassignments: Deb DeShambo to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade English Language Arts; Shari Pizziola to fifth grade; Tim Marczak to fifth grade and Wilson to third grade.

approved many policy revisions as advised by regional policy guidance organization?NEOLA.

approved changed handbook language for Skyward, the district’s online grade submission and parent communication system saying all assignments, tests and quizzes must be created and entered into the system within one week of submission.

went into closed session to discuss negotiations with two unions, but took no action upon returning to open session.

set its July meeting for 7 p.m. July 22 due to adding the June 25 special meeting.