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Marquette schools done with cuts, for now

May 19, 2009
By MIRIAM MOELLER Journal Staff Writer

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MARQUETTE - While the Marquette school board will not make any more budget cuts for the 2009-10 school year, more cuts are expected for 2010-11.

"We're not done balancing our budget," said Kellie Holmstrom, Marquette Area Public Schools board president, at a special board meeting Monday night.

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Jon Hartwig, superintendent of the Marquette Area Public Schools, and the Marquette school board watch a presentation on the district’s budget forecast at a meeting Monday evening. (Journal photo by Miriam Moeller)

After a presentation of the 2009-10 budget projections by Tim Yeadon, MAPS assistant superintendent for finance, the board came to a consensus to hold off on more cuts for the 2009-10 school year. But members said cuts will be coming in 2010-11.

"Obviously these are some gloomy projections," said MAPS board trustee Norman Gruber, suggesting that the board adopt the 2009-10 budget as it is at a later meeting in June, yet immediately after start discussing cuts for the following year.

"I just can see from our projections for the future that the economy isn't helping us any," said MAPS board trustee Laura Songer.

The district's projected budget for next year includes $27.2 million in revenues and $28.9 million in expenditures. A $1.7 million deficit remains, which is projected to be covered by the fund balance and contingency, or rainy day, fund. After 2009-10, MAPS will be left with $1.9 million in its rainy day fund and nothing in the fund balance.

In 2010-11, Yeadon projects a deficit of around $3 million, which could be partially covered by the remaining $1.9 million in the rainy day fund. However, that would still leave MAPS $1 million in the hole. In 2011-12, the budget projections are even worse, predicting a possible deficit of $5.6 million and nothing left in reserve funds.

"As we move forward into the next year (2010-11), we're not only using the contingency fund, but we'll be in the negative," Yeadon said.

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Even with the $1.9 million in cuts that the board recently made, Yeadon said, the budget will not be balanced in the future.

According to district auditors, a public school district's fund balance should be 10 to 15 percent of its operating expenditures. For MAPS that would be $3 million.

"That's why the contingency fund was created," Yeadon said.

Yeadon attributed the growing deficits projected over the next years to static revenues, increasing expenditures, declining enrollment and flat state aid.

"As you can see really our revenues don't change dramatically," he said during his presentation. "But what happens is our expenditures continue to grow, if we don't do anything."

About 30 people attended the meeting, including Matt Edgell, president of the Marquette Area Education Association, who spoke to the board in public comment. Edgell talked about retirement incentive plans the teachers union has offered the district in an effort to bring in younger, lower-paid teachers and offer retirement to older, higher-paid teachers. Currently the union is working with the district on creating a second retirement incentive plan.

Edgell said the retirement incentive would help both teachers and the district. Holmstrom responded to Edgell in her board comments, saying that she appreciated the union's efforts, but noting the district requested a salary freeze from the teachers, which they did not accept.

"We're all working on this together," she said.

In other business, the board voted to replace 16 doors at four district schools, awarding a bid of $94,842 to A&F Construction of Marquette to complete the project.



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