District’s general fund set to drop $840,000

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – The retirements of 15 educators were announced at the June 1 Wyandotte Public Schools Board of Education meeting while two others were recalled from layoffs.

The district, however, nearly had to wipe out its general fund in order to balance its budget for the academic year beginning July 1. The general fund will drop from $864,000 to $24,000 by June 30, 2011. As of July 1, 2008, the fund was $2.73 million.

“We continue to offer a solid, awardwinning program for children,” Supt. Patricia Cole said. “We are ecstatic that we balanced and did not go into deficit. We hope the state does not try and cut us during the school year next year.”

The decline is a result of appropriations outweighing revenue for three years in a row. The current school year’s budget estimated a $1.09 million overbalance since July 1, 2009. Overbalances are taken out of the general fund in order to balance the budget. The budgeted general fund decline for the upcoming academic year is about $840,000.

If the overbalance in next year’s budget is more than $24,000, Cole said, the
district would be forced to ask for concessions from employee unions.

The district’s overall budget has been in a steady decline of its own as it tries to keep the general fund afloat. Revenue and expenses both have dropped about $2 million over the past two years, setting the budget at $33.11 million.

Employee, program and equipment cuts all are common remedies Michigan school districts have needed to make in order to keep their budgets balanced.

Wyandotte’s budget has seen declines in all of those areas. Instructionemployee benefits and central support services are the only two main expenditures to see growth from last year’s budget.

“We have closed two schools, increased class sizes and eliminated any programs, positions or resources that are not absolutely necessary,” Cole said of the district’s costcutting efforts.

Revenue from state and local sources saw an increase for the first time in the past three years, but no federal funding is posted in the budget, although Cole said it is expected. About $1.77 million in revenue came from federal sources last year.

“We are not getting any increase in state funding,” Cole said. “We’re planning for Title I and other similar federal dollars as usual.”
Additionally, the debt retirement budget is set at about $3.1 million –dropping that fund’s balance from $707,000 to $666,000 – and the capital project fund will shrink from $163,000 to $47,500 by June 30, 2011.

(Contact Chris Jackett at cjackett@bewickpublications.com)