Lansing School Board Passes Budget
The meeting Thursday night went smoothly, but the next year might not for the Lansing School District.
"We absolutely will make additional cuts because we're concerned that our fund equity will be lower than what we're comfortable with having," said Lansing School Board President Myra Ford. "You know, it's kinda like, I don't think anybody wants to have no money in the bank."
It's not quite 'no money,' but it is only a little more than $550,000. In order to balance the $10 million budget, they dipped into the fund equity, or rainy day fund, $9.4 million worth.
"I'm not happy with taking this much money out of the fund balance, but I'm pleased with how the budget turned out," said Sam Sinicropi, Executive Director of Administrative Services for Lansing School District. "We were faced with lots of issues, and the issue we had to come to grips with is, what are we here for? And we're here for education."
That education is going through a big change this fall when the school district restructures. Sixth graders will move into elementary schools, while 7th and 8th graders will join high schools. The change saves potentially $2.5 million through building closures.
"We tried to ensure that there's quality staff in the right spot with kids," Sinicropi said.
But Ford said it's that staff that could be the first to go to save money. Although they'd prefer to cut staff through natural attrition, that's becoming more difficult.
"About 85 to 87 percent of our budget is usually in salaries, and wages and benefits, so that's pretty much where you have to look for major cuts," Ford said.
It also doesn't help that the district lost half its kindergarten funding after a new state law passed. Lansing will now $5 million instead of the $2.5 million they've budgeted year after year.
"We need to use grant money more efficiently," Sinicropi said. "We need to do lots of things different."
The budget passed 6-1, though it's based on many assumptions for the upcoming school year - some positive, some negative.
For instance, they expect the student population to decline, which would reduce state aid by $1.5 million. But they won't know whether that will happen until count day.
On the other hand, they're hoping to save $2.5 million from school closings through the restructuring plan, but that's just an estimate at this point.
Sinicropi said he's already looking ahead to the 2013-2014 budget.
"We can't do this again next year," Sinicropi said.