March 13 2013 12:00 AM

Little will be left in the coffers for down the road

Friday, June 22 — The Lansing School District nearly sapped its savings to pay for next year’s budget because of increased costs, a declining student population and stagnant funding from the state.

The school board approved next year’s $168.5 million budget Thursday by a 6-1 vote. The approved budget uses nearly $9.5 million of the district’s $10 million in reserves to balance out. Board member Shirley Rodgers was the lone no-vote; Guillermo Lopez and Charles Ford were absent.

State funding has been “flat” in the past four years, said Sam Sinicropi, executive director of administrative services. While the $7,202 per-pupil funding has been stagnant over the years, costs like utilities and retirement have increased, he said.

Continuing enrollment decline hasn’t helped either. More than 4,000 students have left the district over the past 10 years, Sinicropi said during Thursday’s budget presentation. The 2012-2013 budget estimates the district’s overall student count will decrease by 215, equating to a $1.5 million hit to the budget.

The district has to use $2.5 million it expected to save through closing four buildings to pay for state-mandated, all-day kindergarten. The district has been using federal “Title I” money to supplement all-day kindergarten for a decade, Sinicropi said. That federal money cannot be used for state-mandated programs, so the district will have to forgo the restructuring savings and spend the federal dollars elsewhere.

The board and administration plan to start looking at the 2013-2014 budget in July. They expect cuts, but they are not sure where or to what extent at this point.