Board approves budget

Brian DeAugustine, superintendent, NICE Community Schools

ISHPEMING — The NICE Community Schools Board of Education Monday approved the district’s budget and set millage rates for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

“We’re doing well overall, I think,” NICE Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine said during a budget hearing, which immediately preceded the regular meeting when the budget and rates were approved.

The board OK’d revenues of about $13.5 million, which were up roughly $54,200 from the 2017-18 budget. It approved expenditures of nearly $13.4 million, which were up almost $103,000 from the previous year.

The ending fund balance for the 2018-19 fiscal year is projected to be just under $962,000, which represents an increase of about $130,600 from the previous year.

The 2018-19 budget goes into effect July 1.

“We’re certainly not rich, but not bad for a school our size,” DeAugustine said.

The property tax millage levied to support the budget will be 18 mills, the same as the last fiscal year.

The sinking fund millage will be 1.7415 mills while the debt retirement millage will be 1 mill.

A mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

A total of 74 percent of the district’s income for 2018-19 will come from state sources for a little over $9.9 million, DeAugustine said. About half of expenditures will go toward instruction-based needs, including personnel salaries, for a little over $6.6 million.

One of the areas in which the school district is being efficient, DeAugustine said, is transportation.

The district averages $840 per pupil to get them to and from school, he said, compared with the Upper Peninsula average of $1,024. Also, it costs 40 cents per rider per mile, with the U.P.’s average being $1.25 per rider per mile.

“We do a really good job taking care of our transportation line item,” he said.

For operations and maintenance, DeAugustine said the NICE district spends $853 per pupil, with the U.P. spending $1,490 per pupil.

Contributing to the district’s efficiency in this area is the fact that it runs 23 buses in an area encompassing 700 square miles, with every seat filled, he said.

“It’s a big benefit to us, the district, that we’re so efficient,” DeAugustine said.

The board also approved 2018-19 cafeteria fund revenues of slightly more than $393,000 and expenditures of roughly $408,500, which include new heating racks, he said.

For the debt retirement fund budget, the board approved revenues of about $431,000 and expenditures of nearly $515,000.

DeAugustine pointed out that the district will retire the fund and be debt-free in May after paying off the bond principal at $505,000.

“There’s also a caveat that if it expires, the next time you tackle a big project, it will be a new tax that doesn’t currently exist,” he said.

Also at the meeting, board secretary Donna Champion, who started working in 1957 as a teacher, was named the recipient of the board’s Distinguished Service Award.

DeAugustine said it was trustee Kathleen Carlson’s idea to give Champion the award. Carlson complimented Champion Monday on her graciousness and positivity.

“It’s the only person I can think of,” Carlson said of her choosing Champion.