By Sam Inglot

Lansing Board of Education adopts slimmer 2013-2014 budget, leaves a fund balance for 2014-2015

Thursday, June 20 — The Lansing Board of Education approved a $142.5 million operating budget for the 2013-2014 school year at its meeting tonight — it’s about $22.5 million lighter than this past year’s budget.

The budget will leave just under $5.5 million in the district’s fund balance come June 30, 2014.

“I’m very happy,” said District Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul. “We all worked hard to have this happen and the board acknowledged that hard work and the sacrifices that have been made by the employees in this district. Now we can establish our baseline and move forward.”

One of the biggest savings in the budget was in the elimination of teachers’ planning time, which saved the district about $5.9 million. The elimination of planning time led to the layoffs of 87 art, music and physical education teachers. Those roles will be filled next year by the other faculty who gave up their planning time. In total, 140 district employees were laid off this year, including some support and administrative staffers.

Staffing costs make up the largest portion of the $142.5 million budget at $82.3 million — or 58 percent. The district will have 1,058 employees next year.

The budget adopted tonight assumes several things: It assumes that there will be no change in the district’s per-pupil funding from the state, which is at $7,320; it assumes a 2013 fall enrollment of 12,100, which is 340 less students than this year’s spring count; and it assumes a 25 percent retirement rate of district employees.

Board member Charles Ford did not support the budget, while board member Myra Ford abstained from voting because she believed there could’ve been a perceived conflict of interest with her daughter working in the district.

With the budget set for next year, Caamal Canul said the district’s next task is making sure the classroom sizes and staffing levels are in order.

“We really need to address the layoffs and make sure that we have our class sizes fixed and that we’re moving forward with getting the school year started with the right number of kids in our classrooms and the teachers we need to have,” she said. “That’s very important for us right now.”

The next time the board meets as a whole will be at its all-day retreat on July 12 in at the Clark Hill offices in Old Town.