Martin district expects another stable year as it sets budget

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Next year’s Martin schools budget will spend down the district’s savings by a small amount.

Between a loan for a new bus and its usual state and federal funding, the 2018-19 general fund revenue totals approximately $6 million. It plans to spend approximately $6.1 million. That means it will end up spending down its general fund by a total estimated $75,578.

“We continue to be committed to a 15-percent fund balance as our board goal, which we’ve been able to achieve over the last four to five years,” said school board president Jennifer Harrison.

That number shows how much money the district ends up with in the bank on the last day of the fiscal year as a percentage of what it spends annually. The district projects it will end up with $1,036,119, which is 16.87 percent of its expenditures.

“And that’s even with purchasing buses using general fund dollars as opposed to bond dollars as well as implementing the Phase 1 of our solar project,” Harrison said. “That will put us at 99 percent powered by solar energy.

“We’re working hard to be green and responsible with not only our fiscal resources but also our environmental resources.”

Abby Lloyd, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, assists the district in creating its budget and said it represented a 2.4-percent drop in overall revenue. That accounts for the state’s announcement that per-pupil funding will increase by $240.

The budget accounts for a loss of eight students.

Harrison said, “I think we anticipate that we may be even in terms of our student count, but we like to budget with conservative numbers. Districts around us, and our own district, have at times lost students over the last five or 10 years.”

Unfortunately, gains in the per-pupil funding are generally offset by the loss of revenue from AAESA’s Century Communication program renting classrooms.

On the spending side of the budget, the bus purchase accounted for the biggest increase over the current year budget.

Lloyd said, “We’ve got a new bus purchase as well as cameras going into all of our buses.” That $139,000 expenditure is going to be offset by a short-term, $82,000 loan for the bus.”

In recent year’s, the district’s fund balance has fluctuated but always stayed above the board’s goal of 15 percent of expenditures. In 2014-15, it was 18.71 percent. It climbed to 21.26 percent in 2016-17.

Lloyd said, “Overall, at 16.87 percent, we’re very happy with where we’re at staying within the parameters of our board policy and making sure we’re taking care of our students, our programming as well as our staff.”

Board members unanimously approved the budget as well as a final amendment to the current year’s budget, which hewed close to the one passed last year at this time. The district’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

 

Solar panels

Superintendent David Harnish said the district has installed all of the solar panels for the first phase of its solar energy project. Unfortunately, the district has run into many delays in scheduling work with Consumers Energy for the work to connect it to the energy grid.

Harnish joked, “I have a feeling Consumers isn’t exactly motivated. But after we’re able to connect it to the transformer and throw the switch we’ll set up a ribbon cutting this summer.”

The array is expected to generate enough energy to power nearly all of the district’s needs, producing excess in sunnier months which earn the district credit for the months when energy production drops off.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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