State budget leaves DPS $1.8M short

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools approved its 2014-15 budget but with one big caveat: the administration needs to cut $1.8 million in expenditures due to changes in state funding for education.

The state budget, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder June 25, allocated $13.9 billion for K-12 spending with both traditional and charter districts getting per pupil funding bumped from between $50 and $175.

DPS is slated to receive the $50 bump, but Supt. Brian Whiston said the district is also losing $2 per pupil for best practices and getting hit with extra expenditures that will leave it with a negative
$6 per pupil balance overall.

The district will receive $8,412 per pupil next year for its more than 19,400 students.

“So, with the right hand the state is giving us $48 and with the left taking about 1 percent away from us, which is roughly $54 per pupil in additional mandated costs from the state of Michigan that we have no say in,” Whiston said. “They just tell us how much we owe and we pay it.”

The 2014-15 DPS budget of $179.6 million in revenue and expenditures was passed unanimously by the board but Whiston said that it now has to be re-worked to remove $1.8 million to be balanced again.

“We will be working as a team to cut the budget and we will be coming back in the early part of the school year with it,” Whiston said.

DPS Business and Operations Director Samuel Barna said he is hoping the actual numbers from the 2013-14 budget come in under what was expected, which would reduce the $1.8 million to something more palatable.

He also said the timeline would be tight to readjust
the budget.

“We’re only a few months away from the next school year beginning and we have to find a way to cut a lot of money out of our budget,” Barna said. “Our enrollments keep going up and we have to keep the student/teacher
ratio in line.”

Barna said $1.8 million is about the equivalent
of 14 teachers with full salary and benefits.

School board members complained about the cost to the district and also on the lateness of the budget information making its way to DPS less than 10 days before the next fiscal year begins July 1.

“I thought our budget was very conservative,
especially because we didn’t know what the state funding would be,” Trustee Aimee Schoelles said. “This is a slap in the face.”

Trustee James Schoolmaster said the district has gained more than 1,000 students over recent years while losing $40 million in funding.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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