Trustee Valenti Voices Concern Over Saline Area Schools' Structural Deficit

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 06/19/2019 - 14:51

The Saline Area Schools Board of Education will hold a public hearing on next year's budget at 6 p.m. on June 25.

Board Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair Dennis Valenti reported to his board colleagues and the public at last week's meeting on the results of the last meeting of his committee the prior night on Monday June 10 and the news wasn't good.

"At our meeting yesterday, I was hoping that we could see a slight narrowing of our projected deficit from this current year that we are in; unfortunately the news that we got is not very favorable," Valenti said, after lamenting the experience of an official in his specific position where he gets a front row seat to see so many great programs in action and then has to turn around and consider cutting from them to make the numbers work.

Valenti has been banging the drum of financial concern all year in the lead-up to the statutory 2019-2020 budget deadline of July 1, which is when all Michigan school districts must have their preliminary books turned into the state to receive their funding.

At the time, Valenti warned that Saline schools have been running half million dollar deficits for the previous two fiscal years and that the problem wasn't going to go away on its own and would continue to get worse unless action is taken.

"We have some very significant concerns about some very serious structural deficits, not just for our current year that's ending, but also even larger structural deficits for next year," he warned, adding that a June 17 finance committee meeting was called out of urgency for solutions to the district's financial situation.

Hopefully the district can "get a handle on it" for the current fiscal year, which will be fully cemented and booked next fall, in time for the June 25 public hearing.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Miranda Owsley reported that the state House of Representatives finalized their draft of the state budget, which is good news this far out from the statutory deadline.

On the other hand, of the three funding levels for per pupil allowance, the draft contains the lowest of three proposals which will amount to an increase of just slightly under $180 per student for a total of $930,000 in total additional funding for the district's general operating purposes. At the same time, Saline will lose $43,000 in funding for "high school pupil supports" which the district will now have to shoulder.

Sean Dalton's picture
Sean Dalton
Sean Dalton is a veteran of the Washtenaw County journalism scene. He co-founded and and also worked for Heritage Newspapers.