By ZEINAB NAJM
Local school districts approved their 2019-20 budgets while the state of Michigan overall budget, including education, has yet to be approved.
Dearborn Public Schools, the largest school district with over 20,000 students, approved a combined budget of $312,429,070 with $62,548,469 in local funding, $183,736,507 in state funding and $30,975,518 in federal funding under the revenue.
Expenditures total $310,558,591 with $160,734,404 for instruction, $99,132,557 for support services, $10,222,771 for food service, $5,684,970 for capital outlay and additional categories leaving $1,870,479 in revenue.
DPS Executive Director of Business & Operations Thomas Wall presented to the board on June 10 and included important items to look for in a school budget when it comes to both revenue and expenses.
He said taxes increased 3.8 percent, foundation allowance increased a conservative $65 and student count was slightly decreasing listed under revenue.
As for expenses, Wall said staffing is increasing 2 percent, the instructional program is remaining strong and infrastructure is being maintained but needs funding.
The board, during its June 24 meeting, voted to send the bond application to the state to be approved before the board can approve it themselves at the July 22 meeting.
“I just want to mention the process, we had gone to Lansing last Monday to meet with the Department of Treasury, Mr. Wall and his team,” Supt. Glenn Maleyko said. “Just to remind everyone, we’ve had this kind of topic on the agenda related to a bond going back to like — the first time we actually went public with it was May of 2017 when we had a special study session. In fact some of the initial work started even prior to that when we heard about issues of capacity at the high schools which was half a year so it’s been a three-year process.”
The $245 million bond the board is requesting would go on the Nov. 5 general election ballot while keeping the tax rate the same. Plante Moran was asked to assess 3.2 million square feet in the district speaking with engineers to determine the most important building concerns.
Of the $245 million, $234 million in infrastructure concern fall under the critical needs category.
The four important areas that need funding in order are infrastructure, meeting current and future capacity needs, campus safety and security, and continue increasing the number of areas with air conditioning in facilities or other priorities identified by the board on a funds available basis, Wall explained.
A district-created committee separated the bond projects into two series with $86 million for series one in 2020 and $159 million for series two in 2022.
Some of the bond plans for both of the series include roofing, paving and sidewalks, toilet rooms, boilers, computer center or media center renovations, air conditioning and more.
The series one analysis lists major renovations at six buildings and series two analysis also lists major renovations at 25 buildings in the district.
Crestwood School District passed its 2019-20 general fund budget with a total $48,229,930 in revenues on June 24 including $4,274,620 in local funding, $38,585,495 in state funding and $3,124,815 in federal funding.
Expenditures include $23,948,778 under instruction, $2,848,820 under support services which includes school administration; transportation; operations and maintenance, as for community services expenditures are listed at $182,442 and other financing uses at $876,817.
A total of $48,320,833 in expenditures leaves a $90,903 deficit for the upcoming school year.
The Dearborn Heights District No. 7 approved its 2019-20 budget June 26 with $26,908,313 in revenues and $25,027,843 in expenditures under the general fund budget.
Along with general fund, categories for revenues and expenditures are listed as debt, technology, sinking fund, cafeteria and student activity.
D7 Business Manager Sherry Kelly said 84 percent of revenue is coming from state sources, 6 percent from local sources and 5 percent from federal sources and 5 percent incoming transfers.
The district has budgeted to hire a new social worker and new school resource officer from the Dearborn Heights Police Department.
All three school districts are awaiting the state’s budget approval after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed $60.2 billion budget plan which would have provided millions for K-12 education was rejected by the Senate in May.
According to Whitmer’s budget, there would have been an additional $507 million for K-12 eduction across the state totaling $15.4 billion for education.
On June 10, Maleyko informed the board about the news from Lansing and district facing possible budget reductions.
“The Senate plan is $4 million less than the governor’s plan and the House plan is $6 million less for Dearborn students,” he said. “The Senate and House plans do not put students first.”
Wall told the board the presentation given to them on June 10 was based on an estate because the state did not have a budget yet.
In D7, Kelly told the board during the June 26 meeting that she had to be conservative with the foundation allowance.
“Because the state has not settled what the state aid funding will be for the 2019-20 school year, I’m being conservative and just budgeting a $70 increase in our foundation allowance,” Kelly said. “What’s out there between the House, Senate and governor they’re anywhere from $125 to $40, so I feel like $70 is a conservative number.”
The 2019-20 state budget, including school aid funding, has be approved and signed off by the House, Senate and Whitmer before it is implemented.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])