District balances budget without stimulus funding

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – Despite losing about $1.3 million in federal grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Melvindale-Northern Allen Park Schools headed into the turn of the fiscal year Thursday with a stable budget.

The district would have been short $1.46 million in federal revenue, from $2.97 million to $1.5 million, because of the loss of two stimulus grants and seeing the ARRA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and preschool funding drop from a combined $501,000 in fiscal 2009-10 to $289,000 in 2010-11.

“It’s significant, but we’ve budgeted for that,” said Sandey Gutenschwager, the district’s new director of business and finance, of the ARRA losses.

However, state revenue increased $157,000, from $17.14 million to $17.3 million, despite foundation and special education foundation allowances decreasing $293,000 from $16.64 million to $16.35 million. That decrease is offset by a $450,000 increase from the state At Risk Grant now set at $952,000.

“(We) were able to use that At Risk money to offset (losses),” Gutenschwager said.

Local revenue also decreased $622,000 from $5.1 million to $4.48 million, causing total revenue to drop by $1.93 million from $25.28 million to $23.35 million.

The total fund balance is down nearly $810,000 from $3.15 million to $2.34 million; although the version posted on the district Website reads $1.38 million because it did not account for the amended 2009-10-budget revenue of nearly $1 million more.

“(Officials) must’ve thought the expenditures would’ve been higher than they were,” Gutenschwager said of the online budget.

Due to declining revenue from expiring ARRA grants, district officials had to make a few cuts to balance annual expenses. Staff benefits were modified to cover 10 months instead of 12, helping the district avoid summer layoffs and major program cuts or eliminations.

“We’re trying to keep expenses in check,” Gutenschwager said. “What 2010-11 holds, we’ll see. We just have to be cautious with all our expenses from the top down.”

Total appropriated expenditures will drop $1.66 million from $25.63 million to $23.98 million. Funding for pupil services is the only area seeing a small increase, from $1.52 million to $1.53 million, while all other areas saw decreases.

Basic programs, which use nearly 50 percent of the appropriated funding, decreased $321,000 from $12.26 million to $11.94 million.

(Contact Chris Jackett at cjackett@bewickpublications.com)