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School dips into fund balance to pay for cuts

By Judy Reed

Unless a miracle happens and school funding is restored, Cedar Springs Public Schools will need to dip into their fund balance to cover the $400,000 shortage in state aid.

And with $1.6 million of the school’s $30 million budget being supplied by federal stimulus funds this year, next year doesn’t look rosy either.

“Our intent is not to be reactionary,” said Superintendent Ron McDermed. “Our intent is to move forward and chip away at that $400,000 by the end of the year. This is nothing compared to what’s coming. Unless there is major reform (in school funding), with as careful as we’ve been, I can’t imagine what will happen to other districts,” he remarked. “We’re living on the stimulus funds, both direct (federal) and through the state. Next year we could be short $2 million.”

Assistant superintendent David Cairy presented the current budget situation Monday evening to the Cedar Springs Board of Education.

According to data supplied by Cairy, the school has been carefully building back up their fund balance since 2007. Last school year ended with a 13.8 percent fund balance, and with the latest cuts in school funding, they would end with a 12.2 percent fund balance at the end of this year.

The school projects they will need to spend $30,664,186 this year, but will only receive $30,265,380 in revenue.

Some of the increases in expenses this year include a MESSA health insurance premium of 6 percent, a Priority Health premium increase of 8 percent, retirement increase from 16.54 percent of wages to 16.94 percent of wages, and updated staffing and programming.

Revenue decreased by $292 to $7,024 per student, and enrollment also dropped by 21 students. “The trend data shows that we should be over the hump and start to see a small increase in enrollment,” noted McDermed.

He also explained that they’ve frozen the budget. “All expenditure requests go through Dave and I, and we’re not authorizing anything. We want to be thoughtful and not reactionary,” he explained.

Cairy noted that it’s not all gloom and doom for the district. “We’ve accomplished a lot of great things,” he said. He expects to have more information at the November 23 board meeting.

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