By Sam Inglot

Lansing School District budget on its way to leaner times next year

Friday, May 17 — On Thursday night, the Lansing School District Board of Education got its first taste of the proposed $142.5 million district budget for next school year — it’s about $22.5 million slimmer than this year’s budget.

The proposed budget shows a fund balance of $42,128 which would add to the district’s savings account with $5.4 million, based on the latest figures.

District Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said the budget presentation at Thursday’s meeting was a broad, “30,000-foot view” of the district’s finances. She said the board and administration would get into the nitty-gritty details in the coming weeks.

She said the fact that the budget is showing a positive fund balance come 2014 is a good sign the district’s finances are turning around, but it hasn’t been an easy process.

“This really means the district is back on its feet and we’re moving forward,” Caamal Canul said. “But it also means there’s been a lot of sacrifices made by a lot of people.”

The biggest savings in the budget came from concessions made by the teachers’ union, Caamal Canul said. The teachers agreed to eliminate their daily planning time, which saved the district about $5.9 million, but also resulted in laying off 87 art, music and physical education teachers. Those roles would be filled by other faculty who give up a prep period.

In this year’s budget, the administration also trimmed all department non-personnel budgets by 11 percent. That covers anything not related to paying staff, like paper and chairs.

The proposed budget assumes that there will be no increase or decrease in per-pupil funding from the state, which is set at $7,314. The proposed budget also assumes a district-wide enrollment of 12,000 for the next fiscal year, a decline of about 450 students. That assumes a $3.3 million loss in state funding. Enrollment in the district hasn’t increased since 2001.

That per-pupil funding, at $74.7 million, is the district’s largest source of revenue. It’s followed by grant money at $36.7 million and local property tax revenue at $22.9 million.

The board has to approve the budget by June 30 before the district submits it to the state, Caamal Canul said. Over the next month and a half, the board will tweak the budget with the administration before submitting it. There will also be a community forum for residents to chime in about the budget, the date of which will be determined in the coming weeks.

The board also adopted a resolution amending this fiscal year’s budget. The district’s November financial audit showed an end of the year fund balance of just over $4.6 million. The latest audit, which was approved Thursday, shows an increase of $828,000, which puts the district’s savings account at about $5.4 million.

Board member Charles Ford was the only one to vote against approving the resolution. He said he didn’t support the amendment because he did not support the original budget.