2012-06-14 / News

Board receives budget recommendations

By Cheryl Holladay

The Houghton Lake Board of Education Monday reviewed recommendations by the finance committee on budget cuts for the 2012-13 school year.

The district faces a $637,379 deficit. There are about $257,000 worth of cuts being recommended as part of “Tier I.” Other cuts, referred to as “Tier II” cuts, were also discussed.

Superintendent Kevin Murphy said the intent was to keep the budget cuts away from students, as the district has made cuts for “a number of years.” Treasurer Tim Scherer said the finance committee was acting conservatively in its revenue assumptions when it made its recommendations.

Proposed “Tier I” cuts include: The elimination of high school foods program, $15,537; athletic director savings, $10,133; no “overload” pay, $28,373; curriculum coordinator, $10,133; assistant overage, $2,560; sharing a special education teacher, $90,744; elimination of three 8th and 9th grade technology sections (half-time teacher), $46,836; Transportation Director Stan Gardner as direct employee rather than a PESG employee, $42,000 (he would work halftime and earn one-third of his previous pay); painting of buildings on hold for one year, $4,000; and paper costs, $3,000 (the district used 1.8 million sheets of paper this year).

If all of the cuts were made, the board would have to decide whether to use a portion of the district’s $2.7 million fund balance.

Murphy said if no cuts were made, the district would be left with a 14.8% fund balance. The board must decide if it wants to make all of the proposed cuts or use a combination of cuts and a portion of the fund balance.

Secretary Merry Maiani said she is not inclined to make any cuts. She noted that the board previously made a commitment to maintain the fund balance at a minimum of 12%.

She said she “would rather not take away right now” and is specifically against making changes to the transportation director’s position. Director Stan Gardner was a district employee for about 30 years before he became a PESG contract employee, she said.

“I would definitely be for keeping most of these items,” she said. “If we’ve gotta do the drastic [cuts] the following year, then so be it.”

Member Dan McGregor said he had “no problem” with the Tier I proposed cuts.

“I don’t see the future getting any better,” he said, adding that “reductions now are better than cutting a lot of things down the road.”

Scherer said the recommendations were for a first reading. He said questions should be directed to the Finance Committee, which will meet Monday, June 25, before the regular board meeting. He said the committee could prepare budget options, such as making no cuts, using more of the fund balance and other scenarios.

Vice-president Dave Johnson also asked for net revenues from the bus garage. (The bus mechanics perform service work for other organizations). Business Director Camie Hansen noted that each mechanic earns a different hourly rate, but said she will provide expenses and revenues for the Finance Committee.

The board is expected to vote on the 2012-13 budget at its June 25 meeting. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

In other financial matters, the board agreed to sell the “white building,” located in between the middle school and high school, to Mid Michigan Community Health Services for $7,000. The site will be the new location of the School Based Health Center.

The 2012 summer tax collection agreements were approved for the townships of Backus, Denton, Lake, Markey, Nester, Richfield and Roscommon. The Michigan Department of Education food service contract with Chartwells was approved, based on meal counts and supplies (a 2% increase), as was architectural work in a high school science lab, for no more than $10,000, with Seidell Architects.

In personnel matters, several teachers were approved for tenure and probationary status as part of the consent agenda: Darren Barnes and Alicia Thompson (tenure); Heather Lamoureux (fourth year probation); Elizabeth Warner, Karen Hunt, Cheri Euler, Kristen Hamp, Emily Kalso, Caitlin Meyer, Tracy Periard and Michelle White (third year probation); and Megan Kersh and Jenny Wooten (second year probation). In addition, the resignation of boys varsity basketball coach Larry Mead was accepted and Ryan King, previously the assistant varsity wrestling coach, was hired as head wrestling coach.

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