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Brandon school budget balanced, pending employee negotiations



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June 06, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- After facing a projected $1.4 million deficit for most of this year, school district officials are now anticipating not only a balanced budget for 2012-2013, but a $50,000 increase in the fund balance.

The anticipation needs to be tempered, however, as School Board President Kevin McClellan said the budget that Finance Director Steve Lenar presented June 4 at a public budget hearing is based on shared sacrifice by the employee groups, most of whom are still in contract negotiations.

"Our problems are far from being solved," said McClellan. "We laid off a bunch of teachers and we have to bring some back. The more everyone comes to the table, the more things we can do."

He stressed there will be a balanced budget by June 30 as the state requires, but how many teachers will return to school in September is dependent on employee concessions. McClellan said compensation concessions are being requested, and not just from transportation, which the board has discussed privatizing.

The privatization of custodial services last month is saving the district an estimated $250,000. Other measures taken to balance the budget included handing out lay-off notices to 28 district teachers, and the "tightening" of several budget line items. Lenar gave board members a 91-page budget that detailed every line item in the district. For the 2012 budget, he reduced numbers in several areas where allotted funds were not used in previous years.

Lenar also explained that the $1.4 million deficit was partially based on a worst-case scenario of what the district might be required to contribute to employee retirement. Initially estimated to be a 27.37 percent contribution, Lenar now expects it to be a lower 24.5 percent contribution. Additionally, the state is now expected to restore $120 in per pupil funding, where previously Lenar was working on the assumption that per-pupil funding would remain unchanged.

Some assumptions of his own are also still in place.

"The biggest risk is the student count," he said during the budget presentation he titled "Forecasting Our Future." "We're projecting stable enrollment, but it's hard to predict."

For the 2012-13 budget, proposed general fund revenues are $28,517,151. Proposed expenses are $28,467,287.

The current fund balance is $1,939,435, or 6.36 percent of current expenditures. Lenar's proposed budget will have a fund balance of $1,989,899, or 6.99 percent.

The board will vote on approval of the budget during the next school board meeting, set for 6:30 p.m., June 18.

"In summary, we've come a long way," Lenar said. "We were able to accomplish (a balanced budget) by hitting a target on paper, but we still have to deal with it with our employees in negotiations."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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