$1.9 million shortfall eliminated with approval of schools’ budget

By Brian Marshall
Review Staff Writer
The Lake Orion Board of Education approved the budget for the 2016-17 school year during a scheduled meeting on June 22.
The budget indicates revenue of $79.7 million and expenditures of $79.5 million, with a net operating surplus of $155,000.
Lake Orion Schools Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald was pleased that the budget –after much effort—was passed.
“I think the Phase 1 process has been thorough and comprehensive,” he said. “The Fiscal year 2017 Phase 2 process will be equally challenging.”
Enrollment, obviously, is always a key factor in a district’s financial situation. Fitzgerald addressed the district’s outlook.
“We are budgeting for being down a net total of 55 full time students after including the increase of 50 schools of choice kids,” he said.
The per pupil funding allowance per student increased $60 for the coming school year, resulting in $8,093 per student.
The district listed an operating deficit of $1,930.319 before balancing the budget.
“The $1,930,319 million operating deficit is the fiscal year 2016 second amended budget deficit,” Fitzgerald said. “The fiscal year 2017 adopted budget is in surplus by $155,000. The Phase 1 adjustments, an increase in the FA of $60 and year-to-year adjustments balanced the budget for 2017.”
The board had to make cuts in several areas in order to balance the budget. In a statement prepared by Superintendent Marion Ginopolis, here are some of the areas that took cuts:
District-wise personnel reductions.
Changing healthcare and dental insurance plans.
Reorganizing the transportation department.
Restructuring the athletic department and making cost reductions.
Another major decision announced at the meeting was the status of a proposal to outsource food service. The Board voted the proposal down, deciding to keep operations within the school district. Likewise, the district decided against a proposal to outsource transportation services.
The district has some work to do with its fund balance. District auditors recommend and the school board is committed to a fund balance of 10 percent of total expenditures. The district projects a budgeted fund balance of $5,858,602 at the end of the 2016-17 year.
Phase 2 consists of, according to the district, alignment of facilities and improvement in efficiencies. Those efforts include maximizing building capacity, which will most likely involve closing and/or re-purposing a school or schools; redistricting current students into the remaining schools; and revisiting the district’s program offerings and content to ensure that all students have enhanced curriculum opportunities.
Still to be settled is the status of teachers. The sides are negotiating and Fitzgerald said he was unable to comment.