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Cuts imminent

Amended school budget reveals $2.5 million deficit

February 10, 2010 - By Susan Bromley

Staff Writer

Brandon Twp.- There are no easy answers, simple fixes, or solutions that won't affect students after the school board approved an amended budget that reduces the district's rainy day fund balance to 9 percent and makes cuts imminent.

"Without cuts, the fund balance will be eroded completely," said Jamie Cowan, executive director of fiscal affairs. "We have a situation we have to address with cuts, we can't buy any more time… We're bare bones and down to where the cuts will start to hurt."

The 2009-2010 amended general fund budget approved by the school board at their Feb. 8 meeting has revenues of $30,070,274 and expenses of $32,627,583, resulting in a deficit of $2,577,309. To make up for the deficit, the board is drawing on the rainy day fund, reducing the fund balance to 9 percent, well below the ideal target of a 15 percent fund balance as recommended by the Michigan School Business Officials and even below the 10 percent fund balance they allow for considering the current economic conditions. Cowan presented a cost savings list to the district's finance committee in December that included potential cuts to areas such as sporting events transportation, employee benefits, and pool analysis. One list item that is already being implemented is an early retirement incentive offer for teachers and support staff. Another list item—busing to home schools only—is currently being debated. The district, like others around the state, has been devastated by several years of decreasing student counts (Brandon lost 50 students last year and about 100 in 2008) as well as cuts to per-pupil funding.

State budget cuts this school year resulted in a loss of $175 in per-pupil funding, taking Brandon from $7,316 per student last June to $7,141 per student currently.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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