The financial picture at Saline Area Schools looks much rosier than it did in June, but there are challenges ahead, according to Janice Warner, Assistant Superintendent of Finance for the School District.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Education unanimously approved the 2012-13 amended district budget submitted by Warner.
Warner briefly went over a budget that has transformed from a $1.5 million structural deficit to one with a $145,000 surplus. The district’s fund balance, thanks to the surplus and the sale of land for a new assisted living center at Maple Road and Woodland Drive, is expected to rise from $1.19 million, or 2.32 percent of the general fund, to $1.85 million, or 3.81 percent of the general fund.
Warner’s budget shows revenue of $48.6 million and expenditures of $48.5 million. The land sale was worth $519,714.
She cited several factors that impacted the budget. On the positive ledger, new contracts reached with the district’s unions saved millions of dollars. Student enrollment was higher than expected, which meant more state funding for the district. The district is also saving money because of the state’s pension reform and because of health care changes.
On the negative side of the ledger, the district lost federal “edujobs” funding and spent more on staffing for all-day kindergarten.
Looking ahead, Warner said, the budget is up in the air. The second year of the contracts with the unions is expected to cost the district an extra $450,000. The rest, such as staffing changes, enrollment, state aid, retirement and health care changes, is not yet determined.
Warner said possible legislative reform also clouds the picture.
Gov. Snyder this year commissioned the Oxford Foundation to rewrite the way the state funds schools. The foundation has proposed allowing per-pupil funding to travel to any school district, or perhaps online school, willing to accept them.
The elimination and possible replacement of personal property tax may also impact the district, Warner said.
Republicans in Lansing are also working on legislation that would limit school districts’ access to the school bond loan fund.