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June 28, 2013

Van Dyke school board approves proposed budget

District still in financial deficit

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — Van Dyke Public Schools is still in deficit, but the financial shortfall is less than earlier predicted.

At a school board meeting June 17, central office administrators reported the 2012-13 school year ended with a $1.1 million deficit, rather than a $1.7 million as previously expected.

“We will send a revised edition to the state,” Superintendent Joseph Pius said. “We’re still in the hole, but we’re not as far in the hole as predicted. Hopefully, the state will look at that as a positive note. We’re moving in the right direction. We’re finally to a point where expenditures are not exceeding revenue.”

Under the state guidelines, districts have three years to get out of deficit. School officials submitted a deficit plan to the state in November 2012. While revenues and expenditures are equivalent for the 2013-14 school year, the district is still trying to get out from a previous financial shortfall.

District Director of Business and Operations Andrea Agrusa presented last year’s and this year’s budgets during the evening. The district had 152 fewer students during the 2012-13 school year than the previous year.

The school board voted 5-0 to accept the 2012-13 amended budget, which listed revenues at $31.4 million and expenditures at $31.9 million. Trustees Diane Boehm and Carol Kelsey were absent.

At the same meeting, the school board voted 5-0 to accept the 2013-14 proposed budget with revenues projected at $30,760,976 and expenditures at $30,571,257.

Revenue includes local, state and federal sources, incoming transfers and fund modifications. Expenditures include salaries and benefits, operations and maintenance costs, pupil transportation and other support services.

Van Dyke made some recent changes to cut expenses for next year, thus bringing the district to balance its budget. Earlier in the school year, the school board voted to outsource the district’s custodian services and also its busing services. At a school board meeting May 20, the board approved the laying off of 86 employees, many of whom were custodians and bus drivers.

“For next year, we are projecting a loss of 55 students,” Agrusa said.

There is a projected enrollment of 2,877 students, but that number could change, should Van Dyke either attract more students or lose more than 55 pupils. The more students a district has means the more per-pupil funding it receives.

Van Dyke school officials have been working to cut expenses for the past several years. Because of the state’s economic downturn, less per-pupil funding — also known as state aid — has been made available, although there have been increases in district expenses.

According to the district’s predictions over the next few years, Van Dyke should have a fund balance of $589,000 by the 2015-16 school year. 

The fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.