Lakeview school board hosts budget hearing

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 6, 2024

 The Lakeview Public Schools Board of Education, the superintendent and others held a budget hearing at their meeting on May 21.

The Lakeview Public Schools Board of Education, the superintendent and others held a budget hearing at their meeting on May 21.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The Lakeview Public Schools Board of Education listened to a budget presentation at its meeting May 21.

Eric Lynn, the Lakeview Public Schools executive director of business and CFO, presented the budget to board members, Superintendent Karl Paulson and other school officials. The district’s fiscal year starts July 1, and the state’s fiscal year starts in September.

According to the presentation, expected general fund revenues for Lakeview Public Schools is expected to be $61,062,727, and expenditures are expected to be $61,992,857. Staffing is assumed to include around 81% of expenditures.

Grants totaling $622,000 will be exhausted this year. Those grants include the 98c mental health grant, supply chain assistance (which is a food services grant), and the ESSER III/11T grant that will end this fall.

Lynn said in an interview that they’re not just looking at this fiscal year’s budget, but they’re also looking to the future, and they consider everything that’s moving in the budget.

“There’s programs and grant funding that went away, but because we were prudent in our approach, we’re able to maintain and level off the staffing without having to let people go, so the services to the kids are the same, even though the funding’s gone,” Lynn said.

Lynn said at the meeting that they will transfer extra money — around $1 million proposed for the budget — to the capital project fund, and around $70,000 to the fund balance.

The ending 2023-24 fund balance will be finalized this month. For the 2024-25 school year, enrollment and any state funding are not yet finalized. This includes the cost per pupil.

For the purposes of the hearing, Lynn said, they based their calculations on a Michigan House of Representatives proposal to increase the amount per pupil by 2.25%, set at $9,825.

School bond funds passed in 2020 and 2022 are going to be used to cover updates to facilities. Some of those updates this year include a new wing to Lakeview High School, new athletic facilities and new technology, all in the amount of $10 million. Updates to Greenwood Elementary, Harmon Elementary, and the Lakeview High School new wing, an auditorium and significant updates to the athletic facility are to be completed this summer.

Proposed homestead millages, including state levy and debt retirements, are set at 13.5 mills, and the proposed non-homestead millage, including state levy, debt retirement and operating millages, are set at 31.5 mills.

Paulson said in an interview the unique thing about the last two years were all the grants given out by the state, including grants for mental health, special education, at-risk students and more.

“When you put all those things together, the amount of funds that school districts saw in the last two years was very unique,” Paulson said. “Uniquely high.”

Though the 5% they saw may not be high to some, Paulson said it is uniquely high to schools, and he’s never seen it in his career. He also said he can’t go back past the 1990s, because that was when the tax base was primarily local.

“It’s still a local tax base, but the collection goes to Lansing in the 6 mills, and then it comes back to us through the student foundation allowance,” Paulson said.

Paulson said staff and parents understand that head count is what matters in schools. When the number of students increases, the amount of funding the school gets increases.

“More so than what percent, what the state might be handing out new,” Paulson said.

He added that the student population in Michigan is decreasing around 2% to 3% each year, though Lakeview Public Schools aren’t experiencing the same sharp decline in the student population that other districts have. This is reportedly due to a population decline, families moving out of state and families having less children.

Paulson said they stabilize the head count by offering quality facilities and experiences to the families they serve.

“That’s a total package, right, of experiences families have, and when that total package is a positive one, families tend to stay,” Paulson said about the facilities and classes at Lakeview. “And they tell their friends, and that turns into other families saying, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll (enroll at) Lakeview.’ And when head count matters, all those things matter even more.”

More information will be presented, and the board is expected to vote on the budget at the June 18 meeting.