H-PT board of education discusses budget

HOUGHTON – The Houghton-Portage Township School District Board of Education discussed a preliminary budget for the upcoming school year at its board meeting Monday.

That budget assumes total expenditures of $11,317,041 versus revenues of $10,946,848. At the end of the next fiscal year, the district is projected to have a fund balance of $1,112,143.

Unlike last year, the district will have to put a preliminary 2014-15 budget on its website as part of Best Practice Incentives. Business Manager Randy Ricchi said the budget will be placed on the website this week, though not with the revised 2013-14 figures included yet.

The preliminary budget assumes a 10 percent increase in health care costs, higher than those seen in recent years but in line with recent historical norms.

“We’re thinking because (Michigan Education Special Services Association)’s been kind of holding down the rate artificially with their own money, this might be the year for a 10 percent increase or more,” he said.

Ricchi included a $111-per-student foundation increase, the amount recommended by Gov. Rick Snyder and the state House of Representatives.

Another 1.5 full-time-equivalent paraprofessionals could be hired at the elementary school.

“There’s the possibility of that, so we’re going to build it in so we’re prepared if we need that,” Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil said.

The budget also includes $92,000 for textbooks.

Board President Nels Christopherson asked why the district’s transportation expenditures had dropped by almost $40,000 to $359,000 in the 2013-14 revised budget. Ricchi said R&A Transportation had owed the district money for the kindergarten run last year.

In other action, the board:

hired Erik Johnson as assistant varsity boys’ track coach.

approved best practices incentives. The district passed seven of the eight possible initiatives, minus only putting class syllabi online for online classes.

The state changed the date so that districts don’t have to put them online until next year.

discussed buying a brick for the Keweenaw Community Foundation’s fundraiser for a new walkway at the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.

discussed award recipients at the upcoming Copper Country Association of School Boards awards.

discussed the U.P. Michigan Association of Computer Users and Learning meeting, which the district will host on May 2.

met to discuss teacher contract negotiations. No action was taken.