By Megan Kelley
Annually, Lake Orion Community Schools receives a routine audit that is presented at a board meeting.
During the Oct. 24 board meeting, Plante Moran representatives presented their audit and assessment of LOCS to the board and a nearly full audience.
Plante Moran partner Donna Hanson, took the podium to present their third party June 30 audit of the district.
She began with providing the Financial Statement Audit. This showed that Plante Moran gave the district an “unmodified opinion” which is the highest form of assurance that auditors can provide and that shows that the district’s financial statements are “free of material misstatement and can be relied upon,” Hanson said.
Hanson also noted that there were no internal control deficiencies and no material noncompliance issues found. She also pointed out that the district has been compliant with their sinking fund dollars, and not spending it on things that the sinking fund legally could not cover.
Plante Moran listed Lake Orion as a low risk auditee because of their track record of good control.
Next the board looked at district funds. In total, the district revenue was $82,241,605, a majority (71.6 percent) was from the state. Moreover, the districts total expenditures were $81,725,065 where 75.2 percent of that went to instruction and instructional support.
That means the majority of what the district pays for is salaries ($40.71 million), benefits ($21.9 million) and state restricted retirement ($3.47 million), totaling approximately 84 percent of the districts expenditures.
About 20 percent of the district’s expenditures go to retirement, while 37 percent of the district’s covered payroll goes toward retirement contributions, where 11 percent is covered by the state and 26 percent is paid by the district.
It was explained that in 2018, the retirement cost was $16.334 million. $5.974 million was paid by the state and the other $10.360 was the district’s responsibility.
This led the presentation to the $8,212 per pupil funding received in the district, which is $90 less in 2018 than it was in 2009.
Hanson was clear in her statement that while other districts have very good per pupil funding ($10,000 or more) there are also districts that receive a similar amount to Lake Orion; however, they don’t make improvements using their per pupil funding, they make district improvements by passing bonds.
Hanson was unsure of any districts in the area that, like Lake Orion, have not passed bonds since 2002. (Though the board has been vocal in stating the only other district that has not passed a bond is Pontiac).
“Funding is less, retirement is more, higher financial burden – those are factors that have caused districts to go into deficit,” Hanson said. “For ten to fifteen years, you have had no resources.”
Because of this, Hanson applauded the district in their audit results but greatly stressed the possibility of continued funding problems.