ALPENA — Most school districts in northeast Michigan plan to end the next fiscal year with increased savings when their 2022-23 budgets expire June 30 next year.
Of the seven districts in the region, only two are projecting budget deficits, while the others plan to increase their savings.
The new fiscal year begins Friday, and combined, school districts expect to generate about $83 million in revenue — much of it from state government — and spend only about $82.4 million, leaving a combined surplus of about $600,000, according to information provided by these districts.
Even with a projected surplus, officials in several districts said they had budgeted cautiously pending more information on state funding for the coming year.
Alpena Public Schools — which forecast revenue of about $47.1 million and expenses of about $46.7 million — could end the coming fiscal year about $323,876 in the black. Projections show the district will have nearly $9.8 million in savings.
Superintendent Dave Rabbideau said the district’s finances are stronger than they were just a few years ago when it struggled to overcome budget shortfalls. Now, he says, the Board of Education and the investment the government has made in education has helped.
Rabbideau said it was always important to be careful with tax money because rising costs and unknowns about future state funding could hamper future budgets.
“The district is financially sound and that’s thanks to the stewardship of the board of directors and our associate superintendent for business and operations Mary Lyon,” Rabbideau said. “We still have financial worries like everyone else. Of course, we have received a lot of help from the government, but I don’t know how long the government can sustain this. I don’t think it’s sustainable, but we’re looking to the year ahead and working on a plan.
Rabbideau said the school board also made some minor changes with respect to high school athletics. He said the district will no longer require each team to raise $400 to help cover the cost of their seasons and will continue to pay for transportation.
However, Rabbideau said, tickets for sporting events will increase by $1 to help offset some of the rising costs.
The Posen Consolidated School District, Atlanta Community Schools, Hillman Community Schools and Onaway area schools all plan to spend less than they report on the revenue side of the budget. Each of the districts has significant savings, which could increase at the end of the next fiscal year – if they end the year in the black.
The Posen Consolidated School District estimates it will have approximately $469,411 in savings at the start of the new budget year. Atlanta Community Schools projects savings of approximately $823,000 by June 2023. Hillman Community Schools savings projects will be approximately $1.5 million and Onaway area schools predict savings of approximately $700,000.
Only Alcona Community Schools and schools in the Rogers City area expect to fall slightly into the red. But, it is possible, once revenues and costs become clearer later in the year, that budget adjustments can be made.
Alcona Community Schools expects revenues of $9.9 million to be less than planned expenses of $10.2 million.
Alcona Superintendent Dan O’Connor said the school board developed its budget to account for some financial unknowns on the revenue side of the ledger, and he said expenses were a bit higher because the district intended to purchase a new school bus for $125,000.
O’Connor said that when more is known about how much the district will get from the state, budget changes can be made to reduce the budget deficit.
“It’s a very conservative budget,” O’Connor said. “Without really knowing what the state payment per student will be, and what our workforce is, we have budgeted conservatively. However, our objective is to cover the deficit during the year. »
Alcona Community Schools predicts savings of approximately $900,000 by June 2023.
Rogers City Area Schools projects a slight shortfall of just $35,888, but realizes savings of nearly $800,000.
Last year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a $17.1 billion school aid budget and proposed $18.4 billion in the state school aid budget for 2023. The year State tax begins Oct. 1, but must be signed into law by Whitmer by Sept. 30.