School board approves 2015-16 budget

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 1, 2015

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GROSSE POINTES — The 2015-16 Grosse Pointe Public School System budget anticipates a drop in enrollment for the next school year, which means fewer dollars coming in from the state.


The school board voted 6-0 to approve the budget during its June 22 meeting.


“We’re showing an enrollment decrease, but we’re also eliminating some other costs throughout the budget,” Deputy Superintendent Chris Fenton said.

The district does seem to be moving in a positive direction when it comes to its general fund balance. 


Fenton noted the tax implications going from last year to this year.


“For the taxpayer, there’s good news and bad news,” he said. “The good news for the taxpayer is that their taxes are going down. One of the myths out there is our school taxes continue to go up, and they don’t.


“The bad news is, for us, that enrollment is going down,” he said. “Bottom line, we have a $530,000 tax decrease.”


The district’s per-pupil foundation allowance is up $70 per pupil. However, when that is offset by reductions in other areas, the increase comes out to about $40 per student.


“It’s an increase,” Fenton said. “We’re appreciative of that, but it’s not solving all of our problems.” 


The district is projecting growth of its general fund equity from approximately $6.4 million to nearly $8 million.

The budget also includes a decrease in the number of staff employed by the district.


“We’re looking at an overall staff reduction of 15.9, which included primarily teachers and teacher assistants,” Fenton said.


“The 15.9 fewer staff in the budget have largely been achieved through attrition,” M. Jon Dean, deputy superintendent for educational services, said in an email. “We have chosen to not fill positions after staff retired or left. Additionally, several staff members sought a voluntary reduction in assignment to accommodate the needs of their family.  We do have several employees on layoff.  In the event of enrollment increases we will continue to work to bring our valued employees back to GPPSS.”

 

The budget is subject to change; school districts must approve fiscal year budgets before they have exact figures for enrollment.


“A lot of these projections are just that,” board Treasurer Brian Summerfield said. “This is a dynamic budget, so Mr. Fenton and (the) administration have done a good job at keeping this up to date and keeping us up to speed, but if our enrollment continues to go down, we’re going to have issues like we saw in this past year.”


Summerfield thanked those who worked on the budget.


“I’d also like to thank this board for working with me to get the budget parameters set up so that the administration had guidance when they were working through all of the issues that came up during that period of time,” Summerfield said. “I appreciate everyone’s hard work on that, focusing on what’s important, which is helping our students.”


The district has posted its budget information on its website.


“There’s over 19 documents on our website under ‘Budget Planning,’ so that’s a lot of work and effort,” board Vice President Dan Roeske said of the budget.

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